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Asbestos containing acoustic ceiling tilesAsbestos in Armstrong™ Ceiling Tiles ?
Do some Armstrong ceiling tiles contain asbestos?

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Some sources assert that some Armstrong brand ceiling tiles may contain asbestos:

In this article series we discuss how to recognize & handle ceiling tiles that may contain asbestos.

We describe the appearance, ingredients, years of manufacture, history, and producers of various types of ceiling tiles & coverings as an aid in determining whether or not a particular ceiling covering or tile is likely to contain asbestos.

We also provide a MASTER INDEX to this topic, or you can try the page top or bottom SEARCH BOX as a quick way to find information you need.

Do 2' x 4' Armstrong Ceiling Panels made in 1976 contain Asbestos?

Sears acoustic ceiling tiles (C) InspectApedia.com JMReader question:

I have a recreation room that uses 2' x 4' Armstrong Ceiling Panels made in 1976 or later. They claim to be fire retardant, and are of the Scotch Pine variety. Do they contain Asbestos? - Mark Webb 2/1/12

Reply: no, according to Armstrong, their ceiling tiles never contained asbestos. Citations provided.

Mark, unfortunately there were so many ceiling products, styles, and names that I've found it almost impossible to build a comprehensive list of asbestos and non-asbestos-containing products.

Reading opinions about asbestos-risks in ceiling tiles discussed at legal services websites and at some home inspection websites either leaves you convinced of a serious asbestos hazard, or delivered a disclaimer recommending testing, encapsulation, or other "safe" advice from inspectors.

Let's sort through the question with a bit more specific or authoritative information:

Who says ceiling tiles contain asbestos?

Suspended ceiling tiles of the 2'x2' or 2'x4' dimension, and manufactured by Armstrong, Celotex, Conwed, LoTone, and USG and made before the late 1970's are listed by several attorney-sponsored "mesothelioma websites" as often containing asbestos to add fire-resistance.

In addition, asbestos exposure research includes citations of asbestos-use in not just fireproofing ceiling sprays but also asbestos content in ceiling tiles. (Thomson 1963) (Bruckman 1977) (Lilienfeld 1991) (Mlynarek 1996) (Dave 2005) (Jung 2015)

Below at CEILING TILE ASBESTOS we list research articles citing asbestos exposure hazards. There you will see the source of some confusion about ceiling tiles. A careless literature search for "asbestos in ceiling tiles" finds research articles on maintenance worker exposure to asbestos.

A closer-read of the literature often finds, however, that in many studies the principal asbestos exposure was from sprayed-on asbestos-containing fireproofing used on ceilings or under-roofs above suspended ceilings. At least one study also refers to asbestos-containing acoustical plaster (not ceiling tiles). (Ewing 1999)

When nothing is known about the brand of ceiling tile in your building, and if your building or at least the ceiling tiles were manufactured before the date of asbestos ban in your country then a safe procedure would be to treat the ceiling as presumed to contain asbestos.

In the U.S. the EPA banned spray-applied surfacing asbestos materials in 1973, with an additional ban in 1978. In 1990, EPA prohibited spray-on application of materials containing more than 1% asbestos to buildings, structures, pipes, and conduits unless certain conditions specified. See National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) at 40 CFR 61, Subpart M are met.

Also see MESOTHELIOMA doctors, organizations, treatment resources, legal advice.

Who says their ceiling tiles don't contain asbestos? Armstrong Corporation.

According to Armstrong Corporation, those attorneys and some home inspectors are mistaken. Armstrong commented as follows:

Our mineral fibre tiles are made from a combination of the following naturally occurring, processed and recycled materials in varying proportions depending upon the tile type: mineral wool, clay, perlite, cellulose and starch mixed together in a water based process before being cured by heat.

They are then finished with a water based paint, or laminated scrim and paint, decorative facing. All these materials are environmentally safe and our factories comply with ISO 14001.

Asbestos, in any form, is not and never has been used in the manufacture of Armstrong ceiling tiles.[8]

In general, for ceiling materials of the age you describe, for other brands and without other explicit information from the manufacturer, unless it is quite obvious by visual inspection that the materials are fiberglass or another non-asbestos material, the best answer is to be prudent: treat the material as presumed-asbestos-containing material (PACM) - which means don't make a dusty mess.

2'x4' ceiling tiles are usually drop-in panels in a suspended ceiling grid and are easily swapped out with minimal disturbance or dust if they are damaged, soiled, or need replacement.

Armstrong statement on asbestos content in ceiling tiles - at InspectApedia.com

[Click to enlarge any image]

Source: Armstrong World Industries JLT Office 2003, 20th Floor Goldcrest Executive Tower Dubai Jumeirah Lake Towers, Cluster C United Arab Emirates Phone: +971 4 453 4545, retrieved 2019/02/09, original source: https://www.armstrongceilings.com/commercial/en-lr/technical-downloads/faqs-suspended-ceilings-other-aspects.html#contact-us

Who says play it safe about asbestos in ceiling tiles ?

Although Armstrong has stated emphatically that their ceiling tiles never contained asbestos, some ceiling tiles have been widely-enough reported to contain asbestos that using some common sense is certainly appropriate: meaning don't make a dusty mess, don't demolish a ceiling of unknown materials without taking proper precautions.

Some home inspection clubs and open-associations focus almost entirely on using a disclaimer or on giving clients advice that is safe for the inspector and that may be safe for the client, though not necessarily safe for their walled.[10]

Really? Asbestos is safe and legal to remain in homes or public buildings as long as the asbestos materials are in good condition and the asbestos can not be released into the air.

Watch out: in most circumstances the safest as well as most-economical way to deal with asbestos-suspect materials such as flooring or ceiling coverings is to leave the material alone, intact, un-disturbed and where appropriate to encapsulate, seal, or cover it.

If you must demolish or disturb an asbestos-suspect material, you should either treat it as "PACM" (Presumed Asbestos Containing Material) or have a sample tested if significant expense would be involved.

Research on Asbestos Content in Ceiling Tiles, Panels, Coverings

Comments:

(Mar 13, 2015) Sergio Freddson said:
This is a very thorough article! I never realized asbestos was so common in residential homes. I guess I just always assumed it was used more often in commercial buildings. I'll have to double check a few areas in my home for asbestos tiles. Thank you for your advice!

Reply:

Generally asbestos-containing materials such as ceiling tiles are safest left alone and in-place unless the material is damaged, falling down, shedding, leaving debris that can be tracked through a home or otherwise made airborne. It's ok to paint over, encapsulate, seal, or cover-over such materials if occupants prefer. Unnecessary removal is actually more likely to be hazardous than leaving the material alone.

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