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Asbestos containing acoustic ceiling tilesAsbestos in Johns Manville™ Ceiling Tiles ?
Do some Johns Manville 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?

Asbestos containing acoustic ceiling tilesReader 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.

On that basis, since the age of your ceiling is in that range it would be prudent to treat it as PACM.[9]

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

Who says play it safe about asbestos in ceiling tiles ?

We do, for one. 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, and if you are faced with a significant ceiling-renovation or cleanup expense, and if you can't tell for sure by visual inspection that ceiling tiles are asbestos free, have a sample tested.

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]

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.

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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