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Asbestos-containing ceiling tiles:
Some but not all old ceiling tiles contain asbestos.
Here 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.
This document assists building buyers, owners or inspectors who need to identify asbestos materials (or probable-asbestos) in buildings by simple visual inspection.
We provide photographs and descriptive text of asbestos insulation and other asbestos-containing products to permit identification of definite, probable, or possible asbestos materials in buildings.
Asbestos may have been used in the ceiling tile tiles and in lay-in ceiling tiles in suspended ceilings in the tile body or in paper facing or backing on the ceiling tiles; asbestos was also a common ingredient in some mastic adhesives used for glue-up application of ceiling tiles.
Asbestos-containing ceiling tiles are not considered friable but are soft enough that unnecessary sampling or disturbance may release asbestos dust and particles.
In addition, some ceiling tiles such as used in suspended ceilings may be holding a collection of asbestos-containing dust and debris (from other sources) on the hidden upper side of the tile.
In these articles we explain how to recognize and handle asbestos-suspect ceiling tiles or other ceiling or wall or building sheathing products,
[Click to enlarge any image]
Chrysotile asbestos, one of the most commonly-used asbestos fibers, was used in production of some ceiling materials. Amosite asbestos, also a widely-used form of asbestos, was used in some ceiling tiles as well as in roof and floor tiles.
Crocidolite asbestos was also used in ceiling tile production. Ceilings were also covered with cement-asbestos products as a fire barrier in boiler rooms and similar locations.
Certainly not all ceiling tiles contain or ever contained asbestos. Knowing the the history of ceiling tiles and their various ingredients, combined with the size, brand (usually unknown), visual appearance and location of ceiling tiles, and adding the age of the building or of the ceiling tile installation itself can often quickly decide whether special handling or further investigation is warranted when demolishing, remodeling, or otherwise disturbing a ceiling.
But asbestos fibers were used in some acoustic asbestos ceiling tiles, often amphibole asbestos such as amosite, crocidolite, anthrophylite, tremolite, and actinolite, with amosite among the most commonly-found.
Modern ceiling products do not contain asbestos.
Watch out: During any construction, demolition, or building remodeling project, as dust and particles from many materials, even paper and wood can be irritating or harmful to workers and occupants, prudent procedure would include appropriate dust control, personal protection equipment, and cleaning methods.
While an expert lab test using polarized light microscopy may be needed to identify the specific type of asbestos fiber, or to identify the presence of asbestos in air or dust samples, many asbestos-containing building products not only are obvious and easy to recognize, but since there were not other look-alike products that were not asbestos, a visual identification of this material can be virtually a certainty in many cases.
Insulating board panel and ceiling tile and panel manufacturers produced a range of products, many of which may contain asbestos, but other ceiling and wall covering & building sheathing products made of organic fibers, wood fibers, cane fibers generally do not contain asbestos.
Our photo (above) shows an antique plaster and lath ceiling in a pre-1900 home. Asbestos was used in ceiling products at least as early as the 1800's and continued into the 1980's or possibly later depending on the country of origin or use of these products.
Manufacturers whose ceiling tiles were known to contain asbestos or are likely to contain asbestos are indicated in bold font in the list below.
The ceiling tile products listed below have been confirmed to be asbestos free.
Modern ceiling products do not contain asbestos. Using Certainteed as an example, [www.certainteed.com] you can obtain an MSDS (Material Data Safety Sheet) for each of the company's products.
Common modern ceiling product ingredients include fibrous glass wool, urea formaldehyde resin, and fiberboard products contain slag wool, starch, cellulose [wood fibers], perlite, crystalline silica, and clay.
Watch out: It's worth noting that even modern building products can present health hazards if they are not handled properly. For example crystalline silica can cause nose, throat, and lung irritation. 
Some acoustic ceiling tiles contain asbestos. If renovation is planned it may be smart to simply handle this material as if it contained asbestos particles.
In these photographs of older square ceiling tiles the photo (below left) shows a smooth ceiling tile and the second photo (below right) an acoustic ceiling tile with its characteristic pattern of holes.
Both of these products might contain asbestos fibers, though the principal material is usually cellulose.
The larger suspended ceiling segment, 2'x4' in size (photo above right), was pushed aside to show the older layers of ceiling materials above.
The suspended ceiling tile, if made of fiberglass or cellulose is not a likely asbestos fiber source.
Our concern in this particular instance was that the entire cavity above the suspended ceiling was being used as an air conditioning return air plenum, exposing all of the building HVAC system and occupants to whatever particles were released by materials in the cavity, including possibly asbestos from the older layer of acoustic ceiling tiles.
The remediation contractor removed all of these layers to expose (and clean) the concrete ceiling above prior to installing a new suspended ceiling.
Our perforated acoustic ceiling tile photo above shows that these particular asbestos-containing ceiling materials were also sometimes applied to a vertical wall.
Below we show a different pattern of asbestos-suspect ceiling tiles found in a government building we examined in Poughkeepsie, NY.
As you can see from the photographs shown here, these acoustic ceiling tiles over a wet area can support mold growth.
Also see MOLD INFORMATION CENTER.
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
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:
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.
Also see MESOTHELIOMA doctors, organizations, treatment resources, legal advice.
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.
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.
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.
In 1976 I became the 3rd occupant of a mid-1920s constructed bungalow style house.
The dining room & living room had ceiling tiles installed over plaster and lath in 1971. I have an original product box with several unused leftover tiles.
The tiles were produced by Boise Cascade.
The portion of the tiles’ name is missing; it is
Winterfe__, Decorator Tile, 23222, ½” x 12” x 12”, 64 sq. ft. 64 pcs., Green and White, Flanged T & G Joint.
- Anonymous by private email 2017/09/11
Asbestos was used in some building products sold by Boise Cascade, though its principal product ingredient was cellulose - wood or wood fibre. A Boise Cascade paper mill in Boise Idaho is listed by some sources (typically mesothelioma lawyer websites) as a jobsite where employees were likely to have been exposed to asbestos materials.
The company's asbestos products included gaskets and asbestos sheets used in a variety of applications. Even if a product were intended to be 100% wood fibre, **IF** it was produced in the same plant or same site where asbestos was stored, handled, or used, it might be possible that there was some asbestos particle or dust cross-contamination.
For this reason I expect that few people would provide a guarantee that such products are absolutely asbestos free, even if the probability of an actual hazard is close to nil.
I'm left having to suggest that if you have to make a dusty demolition of suspect material it's worth the $40. or $50. to have a lab test a representative sample of the material.
See ASBESTOS TESTING LAB LIST if you need to take that step, and if you do, please keep me informed as what you learn will help others.
I have a home with a type of fiber ceiling tiles in it, I recently found a leftover box of the tiles stored in a garage attic.
The box is Boise Cascade Insulite Ceiling Tile, the paperwork/ instructions in the box were printed in 1967, any idea as to the composition of these tiles?
I don't know, Please use the page top or bottom contact link to send me some sharp photos of the ceiling tiles (both sides) and all sides of the box itself - I'll research the question regardless but the photos would be most-helpful.
Asbestos was used in some building products sold by Boise Cascade, though its principal product ingredient was cellulose - wood or wood fibre.
Insulite was a registered trademark of the Boise Cascade Corporation registered in 1975. The name "Insulite" has a much longer history, appearing in patents as early as 1920 - the Insulite Co. Wall Construction, who produced wallboard out of fibrous waste material. The word "Asbestos" does not appear in the patent disclosures that I reviewed.
The description provided to the US Patent Office for for "insulite" was primed siding; soffit-facia system-namely, soffit-facia panels and metal accessories, for use in house cornice and rake sections; acoustical ceiling tile; decorator ceiling tile; grid ceiling panels; luminous and grilled vent grid ceiling panels; mineral acoustical tile and grid ceiling panels; suspended grid and fire-rated grid ceiling systems comprising panels, framing members and supporting members therefore; sound deadening board; vinyl coated siding; colored siding; and textured siding.
I'm researching the company's Celotine mineral fiber ceiling tiles, so far with no indication that the company produced a product with that name.
We bought a house that was built in the 50's - it has what I THINK is a Celotex ceiling (or some copy of Celotex) - it's in horrible shape and needs to be taken down - what are your thoughts on it containing asbestos, considering the age? - Saundra
Reply: Apparently, yes. For details of this Q&A and for a list of Celotex insulating products believed to contain asbestos - please
see CELOTEX ASBESTOS PRODUCTS
2018/06/15 Claudia S Nunn said:
Somebody is offering some free ceiling tiles which I could use. The problem is they are from the 1960's.
I have done some searching (you have a wonderful site here! thanks for providing all this important information!!) but found nothing specific about Domtar except that they have had to pay for asbestos faux pas in the past. I am adding a photo of the box.
If anybody has knowledge one way or the other I would appreciate it. I have a ceiling to put up!! lol Thanks again.
Our initial research suggests that the Domtar® residential ceiling tiles you have are probably a wood-fibre-based product, not an asbestos product.
In 1983 Domtar closed its ceiling panel plant that was located in Cornwall, Ontario but continued to manufacture its wood fibre-based ceiling tiles at its Donnacona plant near Quebec City, Canada.
Domtar Construction Materials said Friday its fire-resistant ceiling panel plant will close Dec. 17, 1982, putting 94 employees out of work.
A company spokesman said the closure was due to stagnant markets and continued financial losses at the plant.... Domtar Construction, a subsidiary of Montreal-based Domtar Inc., will continue to manufacture wood fibre-based ceiling tiles and panels at its plant in Donnacona, near Quebec City. - UPI, retrieved 2018/06/15, original source: https://www.upi.com/Archives/1982/07/23/Domtar-Construction-Materials-said-Friday-its-fire-resistant-ceiling-panel/7748396244800/
A look at the Domtar 2017 ANNUAL REPORT 10-K FILING finds no mention of the words "ceiling tile" although the company does indicate that it faces costs for asbestos cleanup and violation of environmental regulations concerning asbestos. " - Retrieved 2018/06/15, original source: www.domtar.com/sites/default/files/2018-03/2017-DOMTAR_Annual_Report_10K.pdf
A look at this DOMTAR HEALTH CONSULT performed by the US CDC in 2008 also finds no mention of the words "ceiling tile" - Retrieved 2018/06/15, original source: www.atsdr.cdc.gov/hac/pha/DomtarGypsumAmerican/DomtarGypsumAmericanIncHC050708.pdf
A prime asbestos hazard associated with Domtar's manufacturing centers on the use of asbestos-containing vermiculite - "Occupational exposure for people who worked at the Domtar facility when Libby vermiculite
was used at the plant (1967-1984) is considered a completed pathway." - Op. Cit.
I recommend having your free ceiling tiles tested for asbestos - the cost would be less than $50. CDN. See ASBESTOS TESTING LAB LIST inspectapedia.com/hazmat/Asbestos_Ceiling_Tiles.php
Let me know what you find.
Meanwhile I will continue to research your question.
On 2016-09-11 by (mod) - Asbestos in Domtar® Drywall?
RE-posting, link delayed for security:
I have a house built in 1973 that I had knocked out a piece of drywall not knowing that it may contain asbestos. The drywall was manufactured by Domtar Construction Materials Ltd (DCM Ltd) with a brand name "Gyproc" rather than gyprock. It was also labeled as fireproof. This drywall has a bit of a pinkish hue and has some sparse but fine fibers sticking out of some of the cut edges.
From what I understand, DCM Ltd was a Canadian division, but also had an American counterpart that used asbestos in its drywall mixture (Health Consultation
DOMTAR GYPSUM AMERICAN, INC., 801 MINAKER DRIVE ANTIOCH, CONTRA COSTA COUNTY, CALIFORNIA EPA Facility ID CAD089182810 MAY 7, 2008, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, Public Health Service, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Division of Health Assessment and Consultation, Atlanta, Georgia 30333 )
Would the Canadian drywall likely have used the same asbestos mixture, or could this have been made with fiberglass? I have been unable to find any manufacturing information on DCM Ltd.
2016/08/16 Jon said:
I truly apologize for the double post,feel free to delete the bottom one:
Hi there, i recently found a 3 stacked pile(5 ft stacks) on my basement of 2x2 suspended ceiling tiles/panels. they look like the everyday ones that have on a office building ceiling. white on the facing(with 2 different sized pinholes and groves),tan on the back. the ONLY info that has stamped (in red ink) is the following:
I have tried and tried to find ANY info about them(online)on the chances that they might contain asbestos.some of the tile look tan in the middle ,some look gray. i want to get rid of them,but BEFORE i move them,i want to make sure that they aren't ACM. ANY answer will be greatly appreciated.
I'd like to see the tile face, back, edge, any stampings on the tile back, and any package if they are in boxes - use the page bottom CONTACT link to send photos if you like.
Given the Brand and not knowing more it'd make sense to treat the tiles as presumed to contain asbestos. The patent you cite might be www.google.com/patents/USD213367
assigned to Johns Manville Corp
and described as a "wall panel" - published 1969. The word "asbestos" doesn't appear in the panel but the age of the patent and the company argue further for an asbestos-caution.
Don't make a dusty mess.
I have a basement finished with acoustical ceiling tile. The previous owners left two boxes of the material. I took a picture of the box, but don't see how to post it. The box is printed with the following: Simpson Forestone Fissured Woodfiber Acoustical tile.
A large label is glued to the box with the following: Thickness: 9/16. Size 12 x 24. No PCS. Sq FT 56.
Large red F with a 1 in white in a reverse print. Then it says, Forestone Flame Resistant Finish. Center scored, flanged joint. Meets Class C of the requirements of Federal specification SS-A-118b. It also has a hand stamp that looks like a lot number of 30182.
Can you tell me if it contains asbestos? The Simpson lumber company is still in business. Would they know?
re-posting a subsequent post: Michael said:
Here is the photo of the Simpson Forestone acoustical tile packaging [photo above left].
[re-published; reader-links get blocked for malware security but I took a snapshot of your photo for use as needed here - Ed.]
Let's try this: take another look at the box and give me
- any dates or date stamp codes on the material. If the lot number can be translated to mean made in 1982 that ought to be far enough past the use of asbestos in ceiling tile products as well as flooring to answer the asbestos question for this product -
The company can translate the lot number for you. (Let me know) The product label refers to wood products as the ingredients. We don't yet know where the flame resistance derives.
- the U.S. Patent number at the bottom of the label (I couldn't read it in your photo)
and we'll research the tile further.
The only thing stamped on the material itself is the patent number: 2,791,289. The patent (from 1952) covers how they create the textured look. The patent does mention a bunch of materials, but not asbestos. ...
I emailed Simpson's Public Affairs (its the only email contact on their website) and they responded that Forestone does not have any asbestos in it.
Helpful Michael, I'll add photos and information to our article as it should help others. Generally when a product says it's made from wood fibers it's not an asbestos item. That patent number is helpful - that's what I wanted to see.
Some photos of the surfaces of the tiles themselves would be helpful if that's convenient. You can use our email address at CONTACT found at page bottom.
However take care to read the information below about some Simpson ceiling tiles containing asbestos.
. - DF
2018/06/18 katie.nussbaum16 said:
We wanted to replace the old ceiling tiles with drywal & ripped a couple down to see what we were working with.. the home was built in 1947. Any idea a date for these or if they contain asbestos?
See the reader's Simpson Acoustical Tile Fonestone brand photos just above and just below.
Please see SIMPSON CEILING TILES just above
We will add your photo to invite further comment. There a reader reports that Simpson (your ceiling tile is a Simpson Fonestone) informed him that their Fonestone line of ceiling tiles does not contain asbestos.
Watch out: at least some production associated with the Simpson brand has been found to involve asbestos. In June 2009 in the U.S. a Clayton County Missouri court, by jury trial, awarded damages to the family of a construction worker who died from mesothelioma after having worked for companies' asbestos-containing products thirty years previously.
Robert Wagner's death was considered to be the direct result of "... legal exposure to the asbestos contained in products manufactured and distributed by Conwed Corp., Simpson Timber Co., and Bondex International in the 1960s and 1970s
,...Mr. Wagner’s co-workers testified that he installed thousands upon thousands of ceiling tiles during his long career tenure. They confirmed never having seen a warning on product packaging about the asbestos hazard, and none wore maskes or breathing apparatus.
Product identification was central to the case. At the time of Mr. Wagner’s employment, Conwed and Simpson offered both asbestos-containing and non-asbestos-containing product lines. The tiles – one hazardous and one not – looked virtually identical.
“The two types of ceiling tiles were visually impossible to tell apart,” explained Troyce Wolf, WK partner and lead trial attorney. - retrieved 2018/06/17, original sources include: https://law.justia.com/cases/missouri/court-of-appeals/2012/wd72474.html and waterskrauspaul, a plaintiff's litigation law firm, https://www.waterskraus.com/ceiling-tile-installer-awarded-4-5m-in-asbestos-exposure-case/
Really? Because the attorneys in the case took what was described as a "shotgun approach" there were multiple defendants in this case and multiple products that contained or may have contained asbestos, fogging the view of the specific question about asbestos in Simpson/Conwed ceiling tiles.
Because Wagner worked around and used so many materials that contained asbestos, the plaintiffs relied on extensive witness testimony from Wagner's colleagues concerning which materials were used in the sites where he worked. Some defendants confidentially settled with the plaintiffs before trial, some claims were dismissed and other defendants won on summary judgment.
Defendants included Bondex (joint compound containing asbestos), Conwed Corp. & Simpson Timber Co. (ceiling tile producers), and other defendants not identified in the press releases.
(June 15, 2015) Ron W. said:
My mom just passed away and her house has the Simpson Timber Co. of Seattle "Dectile Class III Vinyl coated decorative tiles" in it. We are selling the house and a potential buyer asked about the possibility of them containing asbestos. Do you know if this particular type did?
Ron I don't know much about the Simpson Timber brand of ceiling tiles though from a timber company you'd think the product would be made from wood fibers.
However litigation that we discuss beginning at SIMPSON CEILING TILES indicates that some Simpson products contained asbestos, while the company has indicated to one of our readers that Simpson Fonestone ceiling tiles did not contain asbestos.
Cited in this court proceeding: www.courts.mo.gov/file.jsp?id=54841 - this is a wrongful death lawsuit involving Robert Wagner who in 2006 was diagnosed with mesothelioma. Excerpting:
In 2006, Robert Wagner was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a cancer that affects the pleural lining of the lungs. During the 1960s and 1970s, Wagner worked as a carpenter installing ceiling tile at project sites in the Kansas City area. Wagner worked primarily for two companies during that time period, Kansas City Natural Slate and United Acoustics.
In 2007, Wagner died from mesothelioma, and his wife and children ("Plaintiffs") brought this wrongful death action. Plaintiffs claimed that Wagner's mesothelioma resulted from exposure to the asbestos-containing products manufactured by Bondex and Simpson Timber ("Defendants").
Bondex manufactured a joint compound that was commonly used on construction sites during the installation of drywall. From 1961 to 1977, Bondex joint compound contained asbestos.
Simpson Timber manufactured ceiling tiles. During the 1960s, Simpson Timber manufactured both asbestos-containing ceiling tile and non-asbestos-containing ceiling tile. Simpson Timber also purchased and resold ceiling tile from Conwed that contained asbestos.
Also see "Research: Asbestos found in Nu-Wood, Wood Conversion Company, Bondex, Simpson Timber products" at SHEATHING, FIBERBOARD ASBESTOS CONTENT
It is important for both you and a buyer to avoid inappropriate (and thus expensive) panic about asbestos. 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.
back in 1996, A friend of mine picked up a truck load of 2x4' ceiling tiles that were being removed from a small grocery store for total renovation (new owners I believe)..Anyway we finished his basement over several days, and never even thought that they could be asbestos containing.
Unfortunately, there is no way for me to test as he no longer lives in that house. They look like your common "department store/hospital" 2x4 tile, fairly heavy, could be broken easily (crumble), grey/brown back color with white face, and they did not burn (we tried!!) They almost seemed to be made of plaster or clay if I remember correctly.
As this was 1996, Its likely the tiles were at least 10-20 years old, which is worrying to me. I found a picture of the room where they were installed, not very clear as it was taken 10 years ago, but I could send it if you like. They had a design texture very similar to this: i.imgur.com/m0wS9h6.jpg
Follow up picture to previous comment, this is the only known picture i was able to find of the tiles in question. I wish I could do better. imgur.com/NpnfGtQ
Mike we can't say from just the acoustic ceiling tile pattern if the product contained asbestos or not; and indeed even some older ceiling tiles have been tested and found not to contain asbestos. If the second photo link you sent was of the room you describe I can't add a thing other than that we're apparently looking at a suspended ceiling from 2004 (10 years ago) or older.
Thank you for the reply. Yes, 10 year old picture of a 20 year old renovation, I wish I would have taken some close up pictures when I had the chance. The tiles most certainly were made sometime during the 1970's or 80's. Was it common for this style drop ceiling tiles in commercial settings to contain asbestos during that time?
Ah - so if we're talking about ceiling tiles from the 1970's or early 80's asbestos was a possibility - but did not appear in all brands and products of ceiling tiles
I posted a question about a month ago and it garnered no comments so I thought it was time to try the email approach.
I recently purchased a ranch home built in 1960. The basement has ceiling tiles that I would like to remove. Concerned about possible asbestos content.
Only visible notation is the lettering "FRF" on the back [of the ceiling tiles]
Your thoughts on the likelihood of these containing asbestos would be appreciated.
Thank you - S.P. 11/8/2014
S.P., we're sorry that you didn't get a prompt reply to the on page comment - we are sometimes overwhelmed by comments meriting a reply.
The images of your ceiling tiles look like a wood cellulose product. There were some manufacturers (Armstrong) who say their ceilings never contained asbestos.
The "FRF" mark on your ceiling tiles probably identifies the material as Thermafiber FRF® brand produced by USG Interiors, Inc. - see U.S. Patent "Low density non-woven material useful with acoustic ceiling tile products
US 8062565 B2"
The patent application (filed in 2009 - well after the cessation of use of asbestos in most building products in most countries) for that modern material describes it as follows:
[Note that there will most likely also be earlier versions of this product addressed by earlier patents and that the ceiling materials in your photos may indeed be older than this patent]
A non-woven material, that can be formed into an acoustic ceiling tile, is provided. The material includes a substantially planar and self-supporting core of an inorganic base fiber and a synthetic thermal bonding fiber.
The synthetic thermal bonding fiber preferably has an increased bonding surface area that improves adhesion and porosity to provide a base mat or core with a low density to provide sound absorption required by an acoustic ceiling tile. - Cao, Bangji, Donald S. Mueller, Weixin D. Song, and Qing Yu. "Low density non-woven material useful with acoustic ceiling tile products." U.S. Patent 8,062,565, issued November 22, 2011.
The word "asbestos" never appears in this patent description. The ceiling tiles are described as an acoustic product intended for noise reduction and meeting ASTME84 (flame spread resistance) and ASTM C423 (Having a noise reduction property or coefficient (NRC) of at least 0.55).
More about the history of Thermafiber® and other applications of the material is at SHEATHING, FIBERBOARD
In general for ceiling tiles that are not identified absolutely, as we can't know an answer to the asbestos question for certain based on just these photos (without a lab test or ID of the manufacturer) and based on the age of the material it would be prudent to assume the materials are or could contain asbestos.
If you are faced with a costly or messy demolition then it's worth sending off a sample to an asbestos test lab - the cost is typically $50-$50 U.S.
... I will send out a sample today and get the results back to you.
I feel very certain that these tiles are much older than 2009 as the gentlemen who owned the house has had breathing issues for many years and had done little to the house for the last 15 yrs.
He recently passed away at 82 after living in the house since building it in 1960. ...
Yes the wood fiber version of insulating board and ceiling tiles dates back more than 50 years. However when we searched by product name suggested by the marking on your tiles, I did not (yet) find patent registration or other older data that would give a sure product name.
Most likely your ceilings don't contain asbestos but the lab report will be helpful both to protect you and to assist other readers who can recognize the same material.
Please find attached the [CEILING TILE ASBESTOS TEST] report [PDF] from EMSL regarding the ceiling tiles we were discussing previously.
As suspected by you from the start, they did not contain any asbestos.
Hopefully this helps someone else in the future. - S.P. 19 Nov 2014
Hello, I am currently remodeling an 185t farmhouse that was "updated" several times through the years. There are 12" square ceiling tiles in two upstairs bedrooms. There are extra in a box in the attic (pictured). They are Seats brand. Can you please tell me if these are asbestos?
Thank you very much - 2016/06/09 Anonymous by private email
An initial search of our records and other sources did not find a certain answer to the question of asbestos content in older acoustic ceiling tiles sold by Sears. We are continuing to research and will post findings here. Your photos and question may invite posts from other readers too.
To know for certain if these particular Sears Roebuck Co. ceiling tiles contain asbestos you'd need to have a sample tested by a certified asbestos test lab - at a cost of about $50. if you're in the U.S. See ASBESTOS TESTING LAB LIST if you want to take that course and do keep us informed as what you learn will help others.
Some sources we read, not specifically naming asbestos-containing ceiling tiles sold by Sears Roebuck & Co., have asserted that older asbestos-containing ceiling tiles or acoustic ceiling tiles typically had a pattern of two different-sized pinholes plus in some ceiling tiles, variegated short crack-appearing openings.
This pattern was widely used and appears in acoustic ceiling tiles as well as drop-in suspended ceiling panels.
We have not found an authoritative source [yet] that supports the claim that by noticing the design or hole pattern on acoustic ceiling tiles one can assert their asbestos content. That approach sounds rather questionable.
Sears & Roebuck Products that Did Contain Asbestos are described at ASBESTOS PRODUCING COMPANIES
We moved this list to CEILING TILE MATERIALS - separate article.
Our photo (left) shows tremolite asbestos panels glued to the ceiling over a basement of a commercial building in White Plains, New York.
Tremolite asbestos panels were used as a fire-proofing over a boiler room and where other heating equipment was installed.
See ASBESTOS FIREPROOFING SPRAY-On Coatings for photos of dangerous tremolite asbestos ceiling panels and photos of spray-on asbestos fireproofing coatings.
Also see CEILING FINISHES INTERIOR
and see ASBESTOS DUCTS, HVAC a field identification guide to visual detection of asbestos in and on heating and cooling system ducts and flue vents.
Also see Micro-Photographs of Dust from the World Trade Center collapse following the 9/11/01 attack. Links to U.S. government and other authoritative research and advice are included.
Additional asbestos-in-ceiling tiles questions and replies are in the FAQs section of this article.
Was wondering if you could tell if these are likely asbestos ceiling tiles? The building was made in 1985 though I don't know the age of the tiles. They say "CON SAFE" on the back... They are in my workplace, a government building. - B.B.
While the current 1999 EPA notice basically retracted asbestos bans in the U.S., as we noted in the introduction to this article, because of consumer resistance to purchasing asbestos-containing material (ACM) for housing or office finish products, it's not likely that an office put up in 1985 used ACM.
Unfortunately, a responsible and reliable reply is that one can't know for sure when a material was made nor what it contains simply from your photo - you'd need to have a little sample of the material tested by a certified asbestos testing lab for a definitive answer.
How dangerous is it to clean up an area after asbestos tiles were removed without proper equipment or disposal? What is required to be safe during clean-up? - Darlene 1/21/2013
Darlene: in my OPINION the answer is at least potentially YES.
If asbestos containing material, particularly friable materials such as ceiling tiles, or any ACM that was removed in a manner that created dust was removed without proper dust containment and follow-up testing, there could be high enough levels of asbestos in remaining dust in the building to be a hazard to occupants.
For example, running an ordinary household (non-HEPA) vacuum cleaner, or even a HEPA rated vacuum if it leaks, would send that asbestos-containing dust into the air - where occupants may indeed breathe it.
In my own experience I've encountered this problem a number of times and often follow-up testing confirmed that further professional cleaning was needed.
Provided that there is an established need (and thus justification of the expense) for an asbestos dust cleanup, a professional will set up dust containment to keep other building areas safe from dust, use a negative air machine as part of that containment, then typically s/he will HEPA vacuum and damp wipe the building surfaces.
A follow-up test by a professional confirms that the cleanup was successful and that the containment system also worked.
We are buying a house built in 1941 that has 16"x32" ceiling panels glued to the rafters in every room (photo attached).
Leaks from the roof have damaged many of them and we need to know whether they contain asbestos before we disturb the area. Are asbestos testing kits from a hardware store a legitimate way to go? - C.H. 4/18/2013
No one should pretend that they could reliably identify or exclude asbestos-containing material in your building or its ceiling from just your photo, but I certainly understand and appreciate the question.
There are certainly ceiling tiles that do contain asbestos, and others even of the same era (up to the 80's) that do not. Sometimes one can look at the material by eye and see that it is a wood fiber product; but if you don't know, leave it alone until you do.
From the dimensions you gave and from your photo, I'm not 100% sure you are looking at acoustic ceiling tiles, though I agree that the beveled edges in a closer look at your picture look like glue-up or staple-up ceiling tiles not plaster. For comparison see PLASTER BULGES & PILLOWS.
As you suspect possible asbestos I suggest:
I can't comment on an over-the-counter asbestos test kit - as honestly I just don't know what you were looking-at. Identification of asbestos dust or fibers in materials requires two kinds of microscopic examination; if the test kit is simply a container for a sample, along with safe sampling instructions, and that material is sent to a certified lab, perhaps that's fine.
At ASBESTOS TESTING LAB LIST we provide information on how to find a qualified, certified asbestos testing laboratory.
If there is access to the ceiling from above and if you can safely enter there and safely lift insulation for inspection, check, to see if those bulged or pillowed segments of the ceiling are visible from their upper side as plasterboard. [If you find vermiculite ceiling in the area don't disturb it because that may be an asbestos hazard even if the ceiling proves not to be. Vermiculite building insulation (VERMICULITE INSULATION)was often poured into previously un-insulated ceilings of homes from the 1940's.]
Keep us posted if you have the material tested or if you are able to explore the extent of water-related damage above this ceiling - what you find will assist other readers.
Do you think this contains asbestos? - Anonymous
Your photos show what look like 9-inch or possibly 12-inch brown fiberboard acoustic ceiling tiles. While the predominant material in these ceilings is usually wood fibers, indeed up to the 1980's many such ceilings contained asbestos as well.
A competent onsite inspection by an expert usually finds additional clues that help accurately find where there are asbestos containing materials (ACM), presumed-asbestos containing materials (PACM), or what might also be called "asbestos-suspect materials".
That said, here are some things to consider:
For safety it makes sense to treat presumed-asbestos materials or PACM as if they indeed contained asbestos, meaning apply the same guidelines: leave intact materials alone if possible, encapsulate the material for added protection, and if materials are damaged, friable, or are likely to be disturbed by normal building activities, bring in a professional asbestos abatement contractor who, after confirming that the materials are asbestos-containing, will handle the removal or encapsulation with professional dust control, removal, cleaning.
For a single damaged ceiling tile such as in your photo, I'm doubtful that calling a professional asbestos abatement company will be justified, but if you treat the material as Presumed Asbestos Containing Material (PACM) that means using appropriate methods for cleanup and then encapsulation or covering of the damaged section.
I removed them all about a month ago, sometimes i have some breathing chest mild problems but i think from painting and general reno dust. Are you familiar with these tiles in Ontario? - M. 11/28/12
The tiles in your ceiling by dimension and general appearance could contain asbestos;
In my OPINION, even if the tiles didn't contain asbestos, exposing yourself to a high dose of dust can easily result in respiratory irritation and on occasion other health issues from rodent, insect, or other particles.
If you never checked with your doctor you should do so. I'd do that even before testing the material for asbestos.
We have square ceiling tiles in living room and bedroom that were probably installed in the 60's or 70's. The ceiling has been painted with a latex-type paint. There are no friable areas, everything seems intact and covered with a layer of paint. Does this painting effectively prevent presumed asbestos fibers in the tiles (based on age) from entering the air and creating a hazard? Or should the ceilings be furred out and covered? - Edward, 12/3/2012
If the ceiling is painted, not friable, not damaged, not in an area likely to be damaged, it's best to leave it alone. You don't need to install a new ceiling layer over it.
Additional asbestos-in-ceiling tiles questions and replies are in the FAQs section of this article.
2018/01/07 Mr. Unlucky said:
Had a pipe burst early this morning, and it is above the laundry area. There are white tiles with gold speckles on them that will need to be removed. Is there any quick way to identify whether they are cellulose or asbestos? I have all the water turned off right now, but need to assess the damage.
This question and our reply were posted originally at ASBESTOS FLOOR TILE IDENTIFICATION
You'd need to send a sample to an asbestos test lab - for which during the week you can get 24 hour turnaround. See ASBESTOS TESTING LAB LIST for access to certified asbestos testing labs
OR you'd need to know that the ceiling was installed after say the mid 1980's in the U.S. to be confident it's not asbestos
OR you'd treat the tiles as presumed to contain asbestos and create as little dust as possible, controlling dust, taking appropriate precautions, etc.
In an emergency I'd choose the last option above since we don't want to wait days with water off. You should be able to remove the wet tile pretty easily with minimum dust. That may permit removing additional tiles pretty much intact if they're nailed or stapled up. (Glued tiles are more difficult.)
If the tiles are fastened to gypsum board it may be possible to cut through and remove enough ceiling to get at the pipes with little dust.
Just below we include several PDF files of procedures for safe access into a ceiling covered by asbestos-suspect ceiling tiles.
It is usually possible to remove asbestos ceiling tiles or asbestos-ceiling tiles with a minimum of hazardous dust and debris by following rather simple wetting, cleaning, and personal protective gear steps given by a number of sources. Below we provide links to documents describing these procedures in detail.
Watch out: the asbestos ceiling tile or asbestos-suspect ceiling tile procedures given below for three types of ceiling materials are incomplete in that every asbestos removal procedure, including the documents we provide below, includes additional specifications for required personal protection equipment such as respirator masks, eye protection, clothing, as well as other details.
Be sure to review the documents and also to check with your local building and environmental authorities for local regulations that apply where you live.
This procedure for removing asbestos ceiling tiles is excerpted from the Alberta CA procedure cited below
3.4 REMOVAL OF CEILING TILES (High-Risk Asbestos Removal Procedure) (Greater than 100 square foot (ft2))
This procedure for removing asbestos ceiling tiles is excerpted and adapted from the Manitoba CA procedure cited below
The Level-A Asbestos Risk procedure given below is excerpted and adapted from the Newfoundland CA source cited below
This procedure is excerpted and adapted from the U.K. Health & Safety Executive a2 Asbestos Essentials Guidelines
Method 1: Removing a single ceiling tile less than 0.36 m2 in area (eg 60 cm x 60 cm)
Continue reading at ASBESTOS CEILING TILE FAQs or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.
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(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!
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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