Ceiling Asbestos in The Home: Knowing the Risks

Asbestos was widely used for many building materials in construction between the 1950s and 1990s. Before they were known to cause detrimental health problems, asbestos materials were heavily used because of the heat resistant properties and fireproof insulation. A large number of houses built before 1990 would have been made with asbestos ceilings but it can be hard to know without the original building plans for the house. 

A complete ban on all asbestos products in Australia came into effect on the 31st of December 2003. Since that ban was put in place, it has been illegal to import, make, or use any asbestos-containing materials in Australia. In addition to this Nationwide band, workers are also not allowed to handle or move asbestos products unless they have been properly trained and hold a state-wide licence that allows them to handle the hazardous material. While there’s been a major effort to clean up the widespread use of the damaging material during the 1970s to 1990s, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done in order to remove asbestos from private and commercial properties.

While this might sound alarming, often the asbestos is not dangerous if it hasn’t been released into the air. Once the fibres are friable, they float into the air and when breathed in get trapped in the lung tissue and can cause cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis. If the materials are mixed with asbestos and are undisturbed, they might not need removing. 

So, how can you tell if your ceiling contains asbestos?

Textured ceilings are an indication of a ceiling that was built between the 1960s and 1990s. These ceilings were popular during this period and more often than not, the ceilings would have been built with asbestos materials. Often older homes, asbestos is present in the ceilings decorated with Artex textured coating, which was a coating that was mixed with asbestos to make the product stronger. 

This is not the only indication of asbestos in the ceiling. To the naked eye, asbestos is hidden and almost impossible to detect. Sometimes if a ceiling becomes damaged and crumbly, it may be a sign of asbestos in the products that were used to construct the ceiling. 

If you’re unsure on whether your ceiling needs asbestos removal, GBAR Group Brisbane suggest having an asbestos technician or specialist take samples of the material and send it away for testing. These specialists have access to lab technicians who are able to detect when materials contain asbestos fibres.

Once asbestos has been detected in the ceiling, it will need to be inspected to determine the condition. If it needs to be removed, the time it will take will vary depending on how much ceiling is affected and the size that will need to be removed. 

It’s important before commencing any renovations to have a home completely tested for asbestos. When drilling, sawing, cutting and opening up building walls there is a high risk of asbestos becoming airborne and being inhaled by humans around. When asbestos fibres are in a sturdy material and are unbroken, they do not pose such a huge threat but if those materials are sanded back or broken, the fibres will be released into the air.