Danger From Above – Asbestos in Ceiling Tiles

Asbestos was considered a “wonder product” for much of the 20th century. Its fire resistant and nearly indestructible properties made it seem like the ideal material for construction of both residential and institutional structures – both safe and effective. Unfortunately, it took decades before its health effects – including incurable lung cancer – were seen, often in workers exposed to the material without protection.

In addition to its many other uses and seemingly protective properties, it was discovered to have sound proofing qualities, and so became commonly used in what are called “acoustic” ceilings in the form of ceiling tiles. In acoustic ceilings, the asbestos tiles are suspended from the roof, typically with wires – also known as a drop ceiling. This drop ceiling method of construction creates a space between the tiles which augments the naturally sound proofing properties of the material, making it a seemingly natural choice for institutions in particular.

That space between tiles and roof is also where HVAC ducts were often installed. The big problem with this set up is that the danger from asbestos comes when the fibres becomes airborne and are inhaled into the lungs, so the proximity of asbestos tiles and ductwork that runs throughout a building created a great potential for adverse effects.

Identifying Asbestos Ceiling Tiles
Some manufacturers left identifying marks on asbestos ceiling tiles, but age may have deteriorated such markings, and in addition, there`s no guarantee of the label. Asbestos may be present even if the main component of the tiles is another material such as fibreglass or cellulose. In other words, even if you`re familiar with the appearance of asbestos tiles, you cannot assume that visual inspection alone will tell you what you need to know.

Call the Experts
Be safe rather than sorry – if your home was built before the mid-1970`s, then assume that any ceiling tiles contain asbestos and call in the experts for help before any renovations. Please DO NOT DISTURB OR HANDLE the material in question. It is not considered dangerous if the material is still intact; however any future nicks, breaks or deterioration of the surface can mean a potential hazard. There is no “safe” level of exposure.

At GreenStream Environmental Services, we regularly remove asbestos in ceilings, walls, siding and more.  In the Toronto area contact GreenStreamEnvironmental.ca at (416) 818-9414.

Featured in Mike Holmes’ magazine, HGTV’s Income Properties, W Network’s Love It Or List It and chosen by Homestars.com as “Best Toronto Asbestos Removal Company” based on customer ratings and reviews, GreenStream Environmental Services are fully-certified, trusted and insured professionals in the removal and disposal of commercial, industrial, institutional and residential asbestos, vermiculite and mould (hazardous and non-hazardous). Providing emergency service 24/7/365 for all of Toronto and the GTA (North York, Mississauga, Markham, Brampton, Woodbridge, Vaughan, Scarborough, Ajax, Oshawa, and beyond) GreenStream has over 40 combined years of experience serving clients such as the City of Toronto, the Toronto District School Board and many more. For a free estimate in Toronto, the GTA and Southern Ontario, call today at 416-818-9414.  You’ll be glad you did.