How to Identify Asbestos in Ceiling Tiles

Written by jered slusher
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How to Identify Asbestos in Ceiling Tiles
Ceiling tiles are made of different materials. (fire detector on ceiling image by StarJumper from

While newer ceiling tiles are made without asbestos, many old ceiling tiles contained it. Asbestos is a great health risk to individuals if the material is damaged and the particles become airborne. Asbestos can cause asbestosis, mesothelioma and even lung cancer. Identifying the age of your ceiling tiles is the first step in finding out whether they are made of asbestos. If they are, then you can take the proper steps necessary to remove the tiles.

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  1. 1

    Check rooms for acoustic ceiling tiles. A large majority of acoustic ceiling tiles made before the 1980s contain asbestos. If you know the tiles were installed before 1980, they likely contain asbestos.

  2. 2

    Look for records of when the acoustic ceiling tile was installed, if you do not know the exact date. Ask the current or previous owner of the buildings for documentation of the ceiling tile installation. Sometimes proper documentation cannot be obtained. When in doubt, it's always best to assume the tiles are made of asbestos and take extra precautions when you disassemble or remove them.

  3. 3

    Call a local asbestos removal company and inquire about having your ceiling tiles tested for asbestos. Many asbestos companies have or can obtain testing equipment for ceiling tiles. The company will come to the building and take a sample of the tiles to their lab for testing.

  4. 4

    Check for asbestos ceiling tiles in schools and old office buildings. Sometimes asbestos ceiling tiles are hidden from plain view above a suspended ceiling. Remove any suspended ceiling tiles with caution, and inspect the upper ceiling tiles. These cases should be investigated with extreme caution as the area above some suspended ceilings is used for ventilation, and could possibly be blowing the asbestos particles into living or working areas.

Tips and warnings

  • Employ the help of an asbestos expert to inspect your ceiling tiles to avoid exposure to dust particles.
  • Do not handle suspected asbestos ceiling tiles. Asbestos ceiling tiles can crack and break easily, releasing the dangerous asbestos particles into the air.

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