Commonly found in houses constructed between the 1950s and the 1980s, asbestos ceilings were popular for their fireproofing and heat resistance properties.

Asbestos ceilings are most commonly found in bathrooms, laundries and garages as these are rooms where a fire may start unattended. Asbestos ceilings were used to reduce the risk of fire spreading through the ceiling. Asbestos was also used in verandah ceilings and eaves to reduce the risk of fire spreading to adjoining properties.

Asbestos ceilings can contain the three common asbestos types including chrysotile (white asbestos), amosite (brown asbestos) and crocidolite (blue asbestos).

Common asbestos ceilings include Asbestos Cement Sheet, Asbestos Insulating Board (AIB), Asbestos Ceiling Tiles and sprayed insulation (vermiculite or popcorn asbestos ceilings).

To definitively determine whether a ceiling has asbestos, the homeowner will need to call in a NATA accredited asbestos inspector to collect a sample due to the potential health issues, particularly if the ceiling is friable. To avoid breathing in the asbestos fibres, correct sampling techniques for asbestos ceilings must be employed to collect samples including wetting the surface down, using drop sheets, and wearing protective respiratory equipment and disposable overalls.

Health risks due to asbestos ceilings

Health concerns arising out of asbestos ceilings depend on whether bonded or friable asbestos was used in addition to the condition of the material and the use and occupancy of the area. Bonded asbestos ceilings made of cement sheet and corrugated asbestos are generally quite stable when they are in good condition and are only cause for concern during renovations or major refurbishment.

Friable asbestos ceilings such as popcorn asbestos ceilings, on the other hand are potentially quite hazardous due to fibres that may be released from even small disturbances. Any modification or renovation work being carried out in the ceiling area can cause the asbestos ceiling tiles to create dust, continuous exposure to which can result in a significant hazard. 

Safe Environments Pty Ltd offers a range of asbestos services including asbestos identification, asbestos testing, asbestos inspections and asbestos management for homes.