Dilemma with asbestos in ceiling


My elderly mother's house has a crumbling popcorn ceiling in her tv room. We were informed of the danger of asbestos leakage if the ceiling is allowed to deteriorate. I was told that a significant water leak in the kitchen above the tv room several years ago contributed to the ceiling damage. We were told that removal of the popcorn ceiling and the asbestos behind it will require us to keep her out of the immediate area until the removal and then the post-repair testing of the air is completed. This will create a real hardship on everyone since she is a virtual shut-in and suffers from Alzheimer's. Is there an alternative fix that is less invasive and would prevent any leakage of asbestos into the air? I read that one can place a layer of wallboard over the ceiling. But then it seems that it would be extremely risky since any nails or bolts into the ceiling could cause leakage of asbestos. Thanks for any advice or suggestions.
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Don't worry about it. She's dying anyway, so whats the big deal?
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The amount of asbestos is so damned small it should not be a concern. If removed properly, it will be dampened so as not to fly around. The asbestos is encapsulated in paint where it is harmless. Do a Goggle search on this newsgroup and you will see the subject is brought up frequently. There are a few people that panic at the word "asbestos", but anyone with common sense will see it is not a big deal. Some thieves make a lot of money by scaring people about this stuff.
Spray lightly with water, scrape, wipe with a wet sponge. Done.
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[snip]
Let me get the disclaimer up front: nothing I say here constitutes advice of a legal nature. I merely offer what I would consider in your place.
No disrespect to Edwin, because there are reasonable questions about the sharks who go into a feeding frenzy as soon as a homeowner discovers asbestos, but the issue here is not just whether or not asbestos constitutes a health risk to you or your mother. There is also (perhaps more importantly) the question of violation of local, state and federal laws regarding the disposal of what the government considers hazardous waste. Yes, you can just scrape, put the scrapings in a Hefty bag, drop it at the dump and hope no one figures it out, but there is always a risk of discovery/detection at each step in the removal process.
Play it smart: have a small sample of the ceiling material tested by a reputable lab in your area. Do not use a lab that only does asbestos testing, nor use a company that also provides abatement services - you're more likely to get a false high reading from a company that stands to make money on the removal of material. There is a level of asbestos that is considered acceptable, believe it or not; so just testing positive for the presence of the material is not enough - you need to know at what level it was measured.
The Environmental Protection Agency can provide a list of reputable labs: http://www.epa.gov/opptintr/asbestos/index.html. You may find the ceiling is perfectly safe and all you have to do is fix it as you would any other problem. If the test reveals levels of asbestos that would prevent legal removal of the material, you may have options to encapsulate it without causing strain to your mother or the rest of the family.
You have to determine whether the risks of short- and medium-term exposure are significant enough to warrant immediate abatement or to use a stopgap solution. You are not legally bound to remove asbestos from your property should you find it; in some municipalities you are not even legally obligated to remove it when you sell the property as long as the buyer is aware of the presence of the material and agrees to assume all liability...but check with the zoning, real estate and environmental regulations in your area to see what they require.
And, yes, one non-permanent option is to sheetrock over the ceiling and spackle it good and tight. That might hold you until you decide to sell the house at which time you'll have to figure out how to deal with it.
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"There is also (perhaps more importantly) the question of violation of local, state and federal laws regarding the disposal of what the government = TOO MUCH GOVERNMENT!!! Scrape it and throw it in the trash. considers hazardous waste."
cm
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No disrespect to Kyle, but putting it in a Hefty bag is a perfectly acceptable method of disposal. It will not contaminate groundwater or the landfill. Heck, it came out of a mine to begin with.
Some places want it double bagged. This happens to be from Washington State. Others may vary. a.. Disposal of asbestos containing material in an authorized landfill. Landfilling is the environmentally preferred method of asbestos disposal because asbestos fibers are immobilized by soil. Asbestos cannot be safely incinerated or chemically treated for disposal.
Asbestos is not regulated as a dangerous waste in Washington. However, asbestos is often mixed with regulated amounts of dangerous paint wastes.
a.. New Hampshire states: a.. Removal of nonregulated asbestos materials can be legally performed by homeowners, regular contractors, or licensed asbestos abatement contractors so long as each does not violate the National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) regulations (Refer to 40 CFR Part 61, Subpart M) and the work complies with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations delineated in 29 CFR 1926.1101. a.. All asbestos containing material must be placed wet into labeled leak-tight containers or bags for transport to the landfill. For small quantities/components DES requires the use of double impermeable bags of at least 6 mil thickness each or their functional equivalent, and which are sealed.
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Thanks for the info. Now I wish I lived in Washington or New Hampshire - they seem to be a little more progressive. My home state of Maryland is so uptight about asbestos you could pluck the Dept of the Environment like a guitar string.
So, bottom line: whether or not we think asbestos is hazardous, the real question in dealing with it in our homes is whether or not our state has a tight sphincter about these things, and how much risk of fines we're willing to take.
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And it also wise to never let anyone know you 'may' have asbestos on your property.
When searching out information about asbestos in your home, always do it anonymously. Never call the city departments from your own home.
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tenplay wrote:

There has never been a case of an asbestos-related illness involving any commercial product. This includes brake pads, insulation, paint, etc. Further, asbestos-related illnesses take thirty or more years to manifest themselves.
Treat the problems as if asbestos was not there. Even if it IS there, it's not a problem.
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Wow! There's a wild statement based on nothing.
Bob
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I imagine the only people affected by asbestos are the ones involved in manufacture of products containing asbestos that were exposed every day over a long period of time. Don't let your mom take such a job and she will be fine.
cm

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The asbestos IS the popcorn - not behind it. Take a sample and have it tested. It costs about $25 or so. Look up "asbestos testing" in the yellow pages. If there is no asbestos - no problem. If the ceiling was done before 1978, the likelihood of asbestos is far higher.
Bob
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I'll second that Edwin.
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