If you live in a house that was either built or last remodeled during the late 1960s or early 1970s, chances are good that you are living under “popcorn” ceilings–which contain asbestos. This type of ceiling texture–which resembles cottage cheese more than it does popcorn–was considered the height of modernity during the Age of the Rat Pack, the Nixon Administration and the Disco Era. Since it has been known to contain asbestos, and since the health hazards have become well known since the corporate conspiracy of silence was exposed in 1977, many people have been uneasy about having lived under these asbestos ceilings for so many years. Does this mean that you are destined to die from asbestos cancer?
Not necessarily, says Barry Stone, a professional building inspector who writes for the Los Angeles Times.
He writes that “small or periodic exposure to asbestos fibers poses a major health risk has no factual basis…the connection between asbestos exposure and respiratory disease involves those who worked with asbestos materials on a daily basis.” Essentially, Stone’s argument is that unless that material is crumbling and spreading dust, chances are that you’re reasonably safe. Perhaps. In fact, statistically very few people who are exposed to asbestos contract mesothelioma. Asbestos-related lung cancer and other malignancies are far more common, but even these are rare compared to asbestosis–a non-malignant lung disease that stops progressing once the victim is removed from asbestos exposure. However, Michael Bowker, author of Deadly Deception, writes that there is no safe level of exposure. According to Dr. Aubrey Miller, whom he interviewed for the book, there’s no way to be certain. The safest approach, if in doubt, is to hire professional asbestos abatement contractors to remove the material.