If you are unsure whether your textured ceilings and walls contain asbestos, it is essential to have them tested by a professional. Asbestos was commonly used in textured coatings and paints until the 1980’s, and it can pose a significant health risk if disturbed or damaged.
How do I tell if there is asbestos?
Often, you can’t determine if your textured ceiling or walls contain asbestos just by looking at it. The ceiling or wall needs to be tested in order to determine if asbestos is present.
Can’t I just take a sample?
Taking samples of a textured ceiling or wall is a bit more involved that just scraping the surface in one area. Due to uneven product mixing, the ratio of asbestos to coating varied as it was sprayed onto a surface. Various sample points of the material will need to be taken in order to ensure that a range of the material is sampled because textured finishes are not uniform.
While it is possible to take a sample of a textured ceiling or wall by yourself, it is important to follow proper safety protocols to minimise the risk of asbestos exposure. This includes wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) and respiratory protective equipment (RPE), using polythene to cover the ground, avoiding touching contaminated surfaces as you move from one area to another, and shadow vacuuming with a H-Class HEPA vacuum while scraping the surface to prevent dust from becoming airborne. It is also important to properly organise and document the sample and its chain of custody so that it can be analysed in a laboratory. However, it is generally recommended to hire a qualified professional to take the sample and conduct testing to ensure the most accurate results and minimise the risk of exposure to asbestos.
What happens if asbestos is found?
If asbestos is found in your textured ceilings or walls, it is important to assess the risk and determine the best course of action. If the material is in good condition and won’t be disturbed, leaving it alone may be the best option. However, if the material is damaged or you plan to renovate or remove it, it will need to be handled carefully by a licensed asbestos removalist. They will need to follow strict guidelines to safely remove and dispose of the asbestos-containing material, ensuring that no asbestos fibres become airborne during the process. It is important to prioritise your health and safety and follow all necessary procedures when dealing with asbestos.
How to live with an asbestos ceiling or wall in good condition?
- Don’t put tape, nails or screws on the ceiling/walls
- Don’t drill, sand, or cut the ceiling or walls
- Ensure any trades people coming to do work on the building are told that there is asbestos in the ceilings/walls
- Don’t mount any shelves so high that falling objects could scrape the ceiling
- When shifting large or heavy items, take care not to scrape the ceiling/walls
- Make sure kids don’t fling pillows or toys at the ceiling/walls
- Avoid placing a child’s bunk bed in a room with an asbestos popcorn ceiling or walls if it allows the child to touch the ceiling or walls
- If the ceiling or walls starts to crumble, or peel down because of dampness or age, it must be encapsulated or removed.
What if I want to remove the textured ceiling or walls?
If asbestos is found in your ceiling or walls, your two options depend on the condition of the material.
#1 – If the ceiling or wall material is in good condition and not damaged or crumbling, you may be able to leave it in place and monitor it for any changes. In this case, the asbestos may not pose an immediate health risk unless it is disturbed, such as during renovations or repairs.
#2 – if the ceiling or wall material is in poor condition, crumbling, or damaged, you should hire a licensed asbestos professional to assess the situation and determine the best course of action. In this case, you may need to have the asbestos-containing material removed or encapsulated to prevent exposure to the harmful fibres.
Sealing or encapsulation is a method of managing asbestos-containing materials by applying a sealant or coating to the surface of the material to prevent the release of fibres into the air. The sealant or coating forms a barrier that traps the asbestos fibres and prevents them from becoming airborne.
This method can be effective for managing asbestos in some situations, such as when the material is in good condition and not likely to be disturbed. It is important to note that sealing or encapsulation is not a permanent solution and may need to be reapplied over time, and that sealing or encapsulation may not be a suitable solution for all asbestos-containing materials
It is also essential to hire a professional who has experience in using appropriate sealants and coatings for asbestos-containing materials. Improper application can lead to ineffective sealing or even the release of more fibres into the air.
There are two methods for removing textured asbestos coating in your building.
#1 – The first involves completely taking down the walls or ceiling that contain the asbestos
#2 – The second method entails scraping the asbestos off the affected area. If you have textured ceilings or walls that contain asbestos, it is crucial to approach the removal process with caution. Asbestos fibres can easily become airborne if disturbed, which can be extremely hazardous to anyone in the area.
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