Asbestos Ceiling Tiles – Potential Hazards And Precautions
Asbestos was widely used as a component of ‘popcorn’ ceiling in homes or in the form of asbestos ceiling tiles. It was also used as decorative sprays on the walls or for soundproofing purposes. However, off late there has been a lot of concern regarding the use of asbestos ceiling tiles because of harmful affects of asbestos particles on human health.
Hazards of Asbestos ceiling tiles
Asbestos contains deadly silicate fibers that can be airborne on applying physical force on asbestos ceiling tiles. The fibers when inhaled are retained by the lungs and cause potent lung disorders, such as mesothelioma or asbestosis. Even if ceilings are asbestos-free, certain insulation materials like Zonolite used in attic floors, can release toxic levels of asbestos while fixing a ceiling fan or a light. Asbestos ceiling tiles may contain formaldehyde and such volatile organic compounds as components. Asbestos found in ceiling tiles, if in good condition, causes no risk but loose, damp or crumbly asbestos is dangerous. Drilling and scraping of such material is a health hazard. In those cases, the building owners should remove the asbestos ceiling tiles or take necessary steps to prevent asbestos exposure due to asbestos contaminated ceiling tiles.
Safe Handling of Asbestos ceiling tiles
The best way is to avoid the use of asbestos ceiling tiles. However, if you are using asbestos ceiling tiles, you must take necessary precautions to avoid asbestos exposure. Some of the steps are:
Select low-emitting ceiling tiles certified by a reputed organization like Greenguard Environmental Institute.
Use porous ceiling tiles that trap odors and chemicals emitted from building activities.
Install ceiling tiles in a building only after painting, flooring or other such work is over. This prevents the ceiling tiles from absorbing and retaining the chemicals and organic solvents.
Recycle old ceiling tiles under new programs.
Hire professionals to reconstruct asbestos ceiling tiles as they adhere to safety norms and rules. Avoid sanding and dry-buffing asbestos floors.
Follow wet stripping or use low abrasion pads below 300 rpm to avoid exposure.
Report any broken ceiling tiles to Environmental Health & Safety Department.
File an Employee Exposure Report within 24 hours or as soon as possible with the Environmental Health & Safety Department in case of accidental exposure to asbestos.
Remember! A minor exposure to asbestos fibers can cause lung disorders, asbestosis or mesothelioma. Therefore, it is better to safe than sorry.