Acoustical panels are special products used to absorb sound. They are typically applied directly to a ceiling or wall for the purpose of reducing echoes and reverberations in a room. As such, acoustical panels are effective for use in churches, performance halls, ballrooms, school auditoriums, recording studios, lecture halls, and other venues where the clarity of speech and sound need to be enhanced. Acoustical panels are generally installed by construction professionals who are especially skilled in the installation of these panels so maximum benefit can be achieved.
Asbestos & Acoustical Panels/Finishes
Acoustical panels have been used to enhance sound quality and provide sound proofing in both commercial and residential buildings for years. Before the 1980’s, however, many acoustical panels contained harmful asbestos. Asbestos was incorporated into acoustical panels because it was believed to make them stronger and more fire-resistant. While acoustical panels alone are not harmful to your health, old acoustical panels which contain asbestos can be hazardous.
A common example of an acoustic finish that was used in home construction beginning in the late 1950s was the “popcorn ceiling,” so named because the finish had the appearance of popcorn when it was applied. Not only did this provide insulation against noise, but it also had the advantage of being cheap and easy to apply, as well as covering up problems or defects in the ceiling.
Because of the hazardous nature of asbestos, a number of schools and public places have replaced acoustical panels which contain asbestos with panels that are void of this mineral. However, it’s common to find old acoustical panels in areas where sufficient replacement has not been initiated for financial or other relevant reasons. This creates a detrimental situation for people who live, work, or go to school where crumbled asbestos exists as this can be very hazardous to their health.
Reducing Asbestos Exposure
Asbestos dust and other easy-to-inhale fibers can be present in old, damaged acoustical panels. For this reason, it’s vital to contact an asbestos abatement professional for treatment and removal.
When dealing with asbestos, safety must be the number one priority. If you’re ever in doubt about how to handle asbestos, then it’s best to consult professionals to both inspect and remove asbestos from acoustic panels. Improper handling can cause asbestos to spread to other parts of your home or building, thus increasing the likelihood of harmful exposure.