How do I recognize asbestos tiles? (with photos)

Roofing installed before 1981 will likely contain asbestos.

It can be a little difficult to recognize asbestos ceiling tiles. If you have an old house with old ceiling tiles, there could be a good chance they contain asbestos. Also, certain types of ceiling tiles are more likely to contain asbestos than others. It is almost impossible to tell if your tiles contain asbestos just by looking at them, however, you may need to hire an asbestos specialist.

An asbestos specialist will be able to determine whether the ceiling tiles contain asbestos.

Asbestos was once a very popular building material, mainly because it is fireproof. This material was frequently used in the United States from the early 1900s to the early 1970s. In the mid-1970s, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) banned the use of asbestos in construction. Despite this, some houses built a few years later may still contain asbestos in their roofs. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), people should suspect that ceiling tiles installed before 1981 contain asbestos.

When removing asbestos ceiling tiles, it is important to follow a series of safety guidelines outlined by OSHA.

A suspended ceiling is more likely than other types of ceilings to contain asbestos tiles. These types of ceilings are also called recessed ceilings or acoustic ceilings. They are created by suspending a structure from the roof or top floor and inserting ceiling tiles into the open spaces, thus creating a space between the ceiling and the top floor or roof.

Some asbestos ceiling tiles may be labeled. If these labels exist, they will be on top of the ceiling tiles. This is rare, however, and most asbestos tiles are not labeled at all. They almost always resemble normal ceiling tiles.

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Exposure to asbestos can cause lung cancer.

Since it is nearly impossible to recognize asbestos ceiling tiles just by looking at them, you can hire an asbestos specialist. These specialists are trained in asbestos detection. An asbestos inspection typically involves the contractor going to your home and examining any areas that may contain asbestos. He also often gets a sample of the ceiling tiles.

Asbestos fibers can remain in the lungs for many years after being inhaled.

These samples will normally be sent to a laboratory for further testing. Testing these samples is considered the only way to positively identify asbestos ceiling tiles and other asbestos-containing materials. Polarized light microscopy is a technique often used to identify this substance.

As a general rule, any old ceiling tiles should be treated as if they contained asbestos. When removing asbestos ceiling tiles, it is important to follow a series of safety guidelines outlined by OSHA. It is often advisable to hire an asbestos removal specialist rather than trying to do the job yourself.

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