Asbestos in Acoustical Panels Exposure and Risks

Summary

Asbestos was a popular component of ceiling tiles due to its resistance to fire, lightweight and low cost. Unfortunately, people exposed to asbestos fibers during the manufacturing, installation, repair or demolition process are at risk of developing deadly diseases such as mesothelioma.

Acoustical panels are designed to absorb sound. They are typically applied to a ceiling or wall to reduce echoes and reverberation in a room. They are commonly used in:

  • Churches
  • Performance halls
  • Ballrooms
  • School auditoriums
  • Recording studios
  • Lecture halls

Asbestos in Acoustical Panels Explained

Asbestos was widely embraced as a miracle material. It was lightweight, fireproof, inexpensive and durable.

As a result of its supposed superior properties, asbestos became a common additive in thousands of products, including acoustical ceiling tiles.

Acoustical panels are designed to be porous. The panels are usually mounted below a gap under a concrete ceiling. The lighter and softer material allows sound to pass through the panels and diffuse into the space between the panels and the concrete ceiling.

Acoustical panel design is ideal for large gathering spaces where many people congregate and create a significant amount of noise, such as a church or a school.

MJN Brief

Asbestos first appeared in ceiling products in the 1800s and continued to find its way into homes, workplaces and social gathering places until the 21st century.

Before the dangers of asbestos were known, it only made sense to improve the safety of shared spaces by fireproofing the often wood based, flammable ceiling tiles.

Some major ceiling tile manufacturing companies known to have used asbestos in their products include:

  • Flintkote
  • National Gypsum Gold Bond
  • Owens Corning Fiberglass Ceiling Tiles
  • United States Gypsum (USG) Ceiling Tiles

Not all ceiling tiles manufactured during the era of prolific asbestos use contained the hazardous material. 

It is important to note that some products, even if they claim not to contain asbestos, may still contain enough of the material to pose a danger.  If the manufacturing took place in the same plant where asbestos was stored, handled or used, it is possible that cross-contamination occurred.

MJN Brief

Armstrong Ceiling tiles, claim that “Asbestos, in any form, is not and never has been used in the manufacturing of Armstrong ceiling tiles.” Tectum also claims that asbestos never made its way into any of its building materials.

Once the dangers of asbestos became widespread knowledge, regulations and bans on asbestos use came in to place. Despite this knowledge and control, it was not until the mid-1980s that most American companies stopped using asbestos in their products.

Some products manufactured in countries with less stringent regulations continue to manufacture products containing asbestos to this day.

Free Mesothelioma Justice Guide

Exposure to asbestos has led to thousands of mesothelioma diagnoses. If you’ve been diagnosed with mesothelioma, the Mesothelioma Justice Guide will help you understand your rights and know the next steps.

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Who Was Exposed to Asbestos in Acoustical Panels?

When left intact, acoustical ceiling tiles are relatively safe. However, if they appear to be crumbling or cracked, microscopic asbestos fibers could be released into the air and inhaled.

Acoustical tiles are made of a relatively soft material, and unnecessary sampling or disturbance could release asbestos particles into the air. In some cases, the space between the ceiling tiles and the concrete ceiling above is used in the HVAC system, potentially disturbing and circulating particles into the air conditioning system.

While it’s dangerous to spend time in a space that contains asbestos products, the greater danger is to those who work with the material. Those involved in manufacturing, installing, maintaining or demolishing suffer higher levels of exposure.

It’s imperative to take the proper precautions when removing, cutting or drilling into acoustical ceiling tiles. A regular dust mask will not protect your respiratory system from asbestos. And a regular vacuum cleaner will collect dust, but allow the small asbestos fibers to pass through its filter.

MJN Brief

If your tiles were installed before the mid-1980s, it is best to assume they contain asbestos. If you are curious about the composition of ceiling tiles in your home or workplace, a professional asbestos testing lab will test a representative sample of the material for as little as $40.

Health Risks of Asbestos in Acoustical Panels

When inhaled, asbestos fibers can become lodged in the lining of the lungs (pleura), abdomen (peritoneum) or heart (pericardium) and cannot be removed. Stuck fibers can cause inflammation and irritation, leading to several chronic conditions, including asbestosis or pleural plaque.

In severe cases, lodged asbestos fibers can mutate tissue cells and turn them into cancerous mesothelioma cells. Mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer requiring specialized treatment from experienced doctors.

Access Asbestos Trust Funds

Compensation for treatment, loss of income and other damages is available through Asbestos Trust Funds. Workers with mesothelioma and other asbestos-related illnesses may qualify.

Find Out If You Qualify

Seeking Justice for Asbestos Exposure

Manufacturing companies continued to make products like asbestos-containing acoustical panels long after the dangers were known. Many of these manufacturing companies have been found liable due to negligence. As a result, many companies have been ordered to pay medical costs, lost wages and other damages to patients and families.

If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma as a result of working with asbestos in acoustical panels, you may be eligible for legal compensation. Contact the Justice Support team today by calling us at (888) 360-4215. Or receive our FREE Mesothelioma Justice Guide to understand your next steps as a mesothelioma victim.

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Sources
  1. InspectAPedia, “Asbestos Ceiling Panels” Retrieved from: https://inspectapedia.com/hazmat/Asbestos_Ceiling_Tiles.php. Accessed on June 10, 2018.
  2. Tectum Inc., “ Acoustical Products Used In Schools, Churches, and recreation Centers”, Retrieved from: https://www.buildsite.com/pdf/tectum/Tectum-Acoustical-Products-Used-in-Schools-Churches-and-Recreation-Centers-761472.pdf. Accessed on June 10, 2018.

Last modified: June 15, 2018