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Asbestos-free ceiling tiles: how to recognize ceiling tiles by visual inspection to note clear evidence of non-asbestos materials such as fiberglass, and how to confirm that othe ceiling tiles or suspended ceiling panels are asbestos free by a simple lab test. Our page top photo shows an old acoustic ceiling tile that tests showed did not contain asbestos.
This article series 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.
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How to Visually Recognize or Test for Ceiling Tiles or Suspended Ceiling Panels that do Not Contain Asbestos
Reader Question: Are These Asbestos Ceiling Tiles?
[Click to enlarge any image]
Reply: Unlikely. The ceiling tiles in this photo look like plastic-coated fiberglass suspended ceiling panels
A competent onsite inspection by an expert usually finds additional clues that help accurately diagnose a problem or might find asbestos containing materials that you have not noticed.
That said, - no the material shown in your photo looks like fiberglass panels used in a suspended ceiling; the panels include a white plastic surface that faces down into the room, sometimes the surfaces may have been painted to cover stains.
Do not assume, based on a single item that has caught your eye, that there are no asbestos materials in the building, and of course there could be other environmental or even indoor air quality in the building.
The presence of what looks like thermal tracking stains present on the edges of the fiberglass suspended ceiling panels in your photo and the fact that it looks as if the panels may have been painted could be clues about un-wanted air leakage and possible water leaks from above.
Watch out: normally asbestos-containing materials are not validated nor in-validated based on free emails sent to a stranger. But in this case the contents of the photo above are rather apparent.
At left we show a cache of older 9-inch ceiling tiles found in the attic of an older home.
These ceiling tiles might be an asbestos containing material. We expected to find multiple layers of ceilings in this pre-1900 home, some of which were likely to make use of 1960's era acoustic ceiling tiles like the ones in our photo.
How to Identify Non-Asbestos Acoustic Ceiling Tiles by Lab Test
Photos of acoustic ceiling tiles tested, found not to contain asbestos
The room in question appears to have been a garage carport that was enclosed a number of years after the home was built.
The ceiling in that room has acoustic tiles that resemble some of the tiles that have been known to have asbestos. I have taken a sample using the wetting methods I found on your site and elsewhere, but I wanted to check with you before I send them off to be tested.
The 12x12 floor tiles in the same room were recently covered with carpet and I never had a chance to take a sample.
The carpet was damaged by an clothing iron and I'm concerned that replacing the section of carpeting may disturb the tiles in question. However, I'd probably just take a sample once that work was done so I guess I don't actually have a question concerning that.
I've included pictures of the ceiling. I understand that you are a paid consultant but I'm not sure if this question requires a fee. Thanks for your help! - R.N. 10 Feb 2013
Often ceiling tiles that look like the ones in your photos do contain asbestos so your choices are to treat them assuming that they are asbestos containing or if you want to send a sample to a laboratory then you just want to select a certified asbestos testing laboratory.
Most of your ceiling, at least from the two photos, looked as if it were in good condition.
If there were a concern with fiber or dust release from the ceiling I might have suggested a coating or sealant - giving up some of the acoustic properties by painting is not such a big loss on this ceiling; or it may have already been painted. One could tell by looking for paitn deposits in some of the acoustic holes in the tiles.
Certainly if you plan any demolition it makes sense to use appropriate dust control as if the material contained asbestos, not only to be safe (if you've not had testing done), but because high levels of dust can be a respiratory irritant or hazard whether or not there is asbestos present.
Thank you Mr. Friedman, I'll send my sample to one of those labs on Monday. I appreciate your help.
Thanks for the follow-up and the photos. As long as your asbstos testing lab was a certified one we can be confident in these interesting results: an indication that not all old acoustic ceiling tiles contained asbestos. Indeed some manufacturers assert that their ceiling products never did.
Reader Question: How do I test Ceiling Tiles for Asbestos?
A hardware store employee told me to use the lead paint test kit on one of the acoustic ceiling tiles. He said that, after all these years (since 1965) it would show positive for lead, if in fact the tiles contain asbestos. Is this true? - Deb.
Reply: visual inspection plus sample collection to send to a certified asbestos testing laboratory
Deb, a lead paint test has nothing to do with and is not capable of detecting asbestos in building products. The hardware store guy who told you to use a lead paint test to screen for asbestos was mistaken.
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