The use of asbestos in ceilings was
banned in 1977. If your home was built prior to 1977, there is
a good chance that your ceilings contain asbestos.
Following are the EPA guidlines for
obtaining a sample and testing for asbestos.
You can't tell whether a material contains
asbestos simply by looking at it, unless it is labeled. If in
doubt, treat the material as if it contains asbestos or have it
sampled and analyzed by a qualified professional. A professional
should take samples for analysis, since a professional knows what
to look for, and because there may be increased health risk if
fibers are released. In fact, if done incorrectly, sampling can
be more hazardous than leaving the material alone. Taking samples
yourself is not recommended. If you nevertheless choose to take
the samples yourself, take care not to release asbestos fibers
into the air or onto yourself. Material that is in good condition
and wll not be disturbed (by remodeling, for example) should be
left alone. Only material that is damaged or will be disturbed
should be sampled. Anyone who samples asbestos-containing materials
should have as much information as possible on the handling of
asbestos before sampling, and at a minimum, should observe the
* Make sure no one else is in the room
when sampling is done.
* Wear disposable gloves or wash hands
* Shut down any heating or cooling
systems to minimize the spread of any released fibers.
* Do not disturb the material any more
than is needed to take a small sample.
* Place a plastic sheet on the floor
below the area to be sampled.
* Wet the material using a fine mist
of water containing a few drops of detergent before taking the
sample. The water/detergent mist will reduce the release of asbestos
* Carefully cut a piece from the entire
depth of the material using, for example, a small knife, corer,
or other sharp object. Place the samll piece into a clean container
(for example, a 35 mm film canister, small glass or plastic vial,
or high quality resealable plastic bag).
* Tightly seal the container after
the sample is in it.
* Carefully dispose of the plastic
sheet. Use a damp paper towel to clean up any material on the
outside of the container or around the area sampled. Dispose of
asbestos materials according to state and local procedures.
* Label the container with an identification
number and clearly state when and where the sample was taken.
* Patch the sampled area with the smallest
possible piece of duct tape to prevent fiber release.
* Sent the sample to an EPA-approved
laboratory for analysis. The National Institute for Standards
and Technology (NIST) has a list of these laboratories. You can
get this list form the Laboratory Accreditation Administration,
NIST, Gaithersburg, MD 20899 (telephone 301-975-4016). Your state
or local health department may also be able to help.
The above information was obtained from
the Environmental Protection Agency's website. For more detailed
information on Asbestos in Your Home go to www.epa.gov and search
Bay Area Acoustic Ceilings recomends
two local testing laboratories.
Forensic Analytical 3777 Depot Road,
Hayward, CA 94545 -- Telephone 510-887-8828.
Envirogroup Inc 2940 Camino Diablo,
Suite 100, Walnut Creek, CA -- Telephone 925-930-8282
Once you have the results of the asbestos
testing you can determine whether you want to have your ceilings
sealed and reprayed (thereby encapsulating asbestos fibers) or
removed by a licensed abatement contractor.