As the title says, my house was built in 1969 and has popcorn ceiling, so according to many readings on my research it's very likely that the ceiling and possibly other parts of the house has asbestos.

I read in this post that if the ceiling is painted, it would be harder for me to get rid of asbestos but also it would be safer for me since it would be less likely that asbestos can get released to the air. I'm honestly not sure if the ceiling was painted and I'm not sure if I can just tell by looking at it, I mean, it looks pretty white just like the walls but I'm not sure if it was painted before I moved to this house, since it has been 1 year since I moved in. I don't have a way to contact the previous owner so I'm not sure, but in case that they weren't painted, can I apply some kind of sealant instead of paint them?

I've seen that if the part of the house that contains asbestos isn't disturbed it doesn't poses a healthy hazard. By "disturb" I'm not sure if I for example If I kill a bug with a piece of paper and slam it agains the wall or the ceiling containing asbestos would pose a risk, or only if I really scrap the ceiling really hard, do any update, construction, etc. then particles really get into the air is only when I really should worry?

Would also be dangerous if I touch the ceiling with my hand and then I touch my food with those hands would that be dangerous? I ask that because I have little kids and they might do that, so then I would know I need to do something about that.

I'm not sure if the insulation in my attic might have asbestos, but given the year the house was built I suppose that might also have asbestos, in any case, I know I need to install more insulation in my house because my inspector told me that the current one is pretty thin, so the question here is, do I then need to hire a professional to install more insulation instead of doing it myself, which it can pose a high risk for me to breath asbestos when installing more insulation?

Also according to this answer in this post It can have a health risk if you breath it for a short period of time or for months or years. I mean some sources say that even if you breath it once, it might be super bad for you, so it's then hard to tell how bad is to breath asbestos if sources say for one second for months or years, so how bad really is? and does it depend on how much percentage of asbestos is in the ceiling?

Thank you so much in advance!

  • 1
    fwiw, i've never heard of a meso case from residential exposure; it's always occupational.
    – dandavis
    Aug 19, 2019 at 16:10

2 Answers 2


Don't panic!

It is almost certainly the case that the ceiling has been painted. You could give it another coat of paint now if you like.

By "disturbed", people mean "broken in a way that releases dust". If you swat a fly, you should be fine, but please don't try to sand the ceiling smooth - that would not be good.

The danger due to asbestos is directly related to the number of fibres you breath in. If you breath highly contaminated air for years at a time (for instance you have a full working life working with lose asbestos fibres insulating plumbing - that used to happen), you are quite likely to develop asbestosis. On the other hand, if you breath lightly contaminated air for a few days you will be millions of millions times less likely to do so (but the risk never goes to zero).

You should also remember that asbestos is a natural mineral, so there is always some in the air - note what I said above.

Finally, it may be worth getting your home tested for asbestos, but make sure that the test is not done by people who specialize in asbestos removal - they have too much of a vested interest. I say "may" because if you are planning to sell the house soon, and you know it has asbestos, you will have to tell any potential purchaser.

Edit I hadn't noticed the question about asbestos insulation.

I have never heard of loose asbestos fibre being used for loft insulation. However it was so used in your area, that changes the risk analysis completely. Loose fibre is many orders of magnitude more dangerous than fibre reinforcing a solid matrix.

If there is a chance the loft insulation is asbestos, I would get the house tested ASAP. Until you get the results, do not go into the loft. If it is asbestos, you will need the men in moon suits to remove the insulation. (No, you can't just lay some more insulation on top). You should take the removal experts advice as to whether it is safe to continue living in the house until it has been removed.

  • Thank you Martin. My question here is when you say "The danger due to asbestos is directly related to the number of fibres you breath in" does that mean it would depend on how much percentage of asbestos my ceiling has? Also, could you please give me an advise on my insulation question? Thank you!
    – VaTo
    Aug 19, 2019 at 19:22
  • Somebody suggested an edit with the text "No, asbestos is not always in the air". I believe this to be false - asbestos is a natural mineral, and the will be some level of asbestos fibres throughout the entire atmosphere. Mar 19 at 6:33

This is all speculation until you have the house and its surfaces tested.

Once you have those results you will have either:

  1. nothing to be concerned about,

  2. results to base subsequent decisions on.

Until you have the results then you won't be able to make firm decisions, so have it tested.

  • Also, check dust samples. Even if it is asbestos, if it's firmly bound and not in dust, there is no immediate concern. Aug 19, 2019 at 6:27
  • well not all of it is speculation. I'm pretty sure I do have asbestos given the year the house was built and the house around my house have asbestos, and I have the same popcorn style ceiling.
    – VaTo
    Aug 19, 2019 at 15:50
  • do be aware of the legal ramification of having testing done; you will have to treat it or tell potential buyers of your home about it if it's positive.
    – dandavis
    Aug 19, 2019 at 16:09
  • But in any case, do you have answers for my questions on each point please? Thank you!
    – VaTo
    Aug 19, 2019 at 19:19

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