There are some trends we look back on and wonder how they could have been so popular, like bell-bottoms or the top hat. In architecture, one such trend was the popcorn ceiling, a spray- or paint-on ceiling treatment that looks like cottage cheese, is difficult to clean, and traps dust. Unfortunately, some popcorn ceilings also contain asbestos, a known carcinogen. Read on to learn about the dangers of popcorn ceiling asbestos and steps to take if you have a popcorn ceiling in your home or workplace.
What Is Popcorn Ceiling Asbestos?
The popcorn ceiling, also known as a stucco or acoustic ceiling, was popular from the late 1950s through the 1980s because it was easy to apply, hid imperfections well, and had acoustic benefits. During that time, however, asbestos was often one of the ingredients included in this spray-on paint. According to the EPA, asbestos was banned in these compounds in 1977 when it was found to be a carcinogen, but manufacturers were allowed to use up their existing supply even after that date.
Can I Get Sick if I Have a Popcorn Ceiling in My Home?
Many popcorn ceilings do not pose a great risk to you and your family. Even those made with asbestos won’t make you sick unless the fibers are disturbed and released into the air -- during remodeling work, for example. If you do have popcorn ceiling asbestos and the fibers are released, you may inhale those fibers, which increases your risk of developing serious diseases such as lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis.
How to Deal with Popcorn Ceiling Asbestos
If you’re worried about popcorn ceiling asbestos in your home, experts recommend a number of options for dealing with the potential danger. First, you can have your ceiling tested to determine the percentage – if any – of asbestos contained in the material. Second, if the ceiling is in good condition, you can leave it alone or paint over it to seal the asbestos in more securely.
Third, you could remove the popcorn ceiling asbestos from your home altogether. While federal law does not require someone to be trained and accredited for this process, some states and localities do, because the removal and disposal process can be dangerous. Additionally, laws like the Clean Air Act specify particular procedures for the removal process. So if you do remove the asbestos yourself, you take on the legal liability of containing, transporting, and disposing of the asbestos appropriately.
Popcorn Ceiling Asbestos Lawsuits
Because of the devastating effects of asbestos exposure, there have been many lawsuits surrounding this issue. Unfortunately, since you may not get sick for 10-40 years after exposure, proving your case may seem like an impossible task. However, many experienced attorneys have helped their clients with successful asbestos lawsuits, achieving monetary awards that include medical costs, lost wages, lost earning capacity, lost enjoyment of life, and punitive damages.
In addition to these private lawsuits, workers are also protected by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Environmental Protection Agency, and state laws. So, if you’re concerned about popcorn ceiling asbestos at work, you can file a safety and health complaint directly with OSHA.
Know Your Rights and Get Help with Your Asbestos-Related Claim
Dealing with an asbestos issue can be complicated, time-consuming, and stressful. The removal process is dangerous, and if you are exposed, symptoms may not show up until decades later, making it difficult to track down the guilty parties. Whether you’re concerned about popcorn ceiling asbestos in your home, or you’ve already been exposed to asbestos, let an experienced personal injury attorney provide a claim review and some peace of mind.
Contact a qualified product liability attorney to make sure your rights are protected.