Am I Going to Die? Asbestos Question

This morning I was attempting to make a minor acoustic-ceiling repair in my house when the whole foyer ceiling collapsed. There was a lot of insulation that came out; it looked more like dust balls than insulation (nothing like what the Pink Panther sells). Was it asbestos? Am I gonna die immediately?

Yes, you’re going to die.
No, not immediately. :rolleyes:

Sounds like blown-in cellulose (paper) insulation to me. Mostly harmless.
How old is your house? There was asbestos used in popcorn ceilings in the 70’s.

My house was built in 1890 +/- and I think that the drop ceilings were installed in the 1960s, which is when the insulation would have been blown between the floors. It looks exactly like what comes out of my vaccum air filter.

[steps up, puts Asbestos Inspector hat on]

As Bewoulff said, how old is your house?

To be on the safe side, you might want to contact an asbestos inspector in your area and ask them how much they’d charge to take a sample of the stuff that fell down and see what’s in it. It shouldn’t be too much for a small sample.

Asbestos is only a problem when it becomes friable–that is, when it is reduced to powder or broken up, and is harmful when one is exposed to it over a long period of time. You’ll be fine :slight_smile:

[takes hat off, puts cowboy hat back on]

Well, I don’t think that asbestos was ever used as blow-in insulation - it’s too expensive for low-temperature uses. If you are really worried, there are labs you can send samples to to test: . For now, get a decent face mask, and use wet cleanup to remove as much as you can. Even if it IS asbestos, the likelihood of developing problems is miniscule - the vast majority of asbestos-related injuries came from people who were exposed to high airborne concentrations over many years.

Yup, wet clean up is best. Put a teeny-tiny drop of dish detergent in your water, that makes the particles of insulation ‘adhere’ better.

Chances are your insulation is either firber glass or rock wool.

Any finely divided material, dust, grain dust, coal dust, etc. is a hazard if breathed in over a long period of time. Coal miners got black lung because of improper dust control. Many workmen and work women applied asbestos insulation to steam pipes on ships in WWII without difficulty if they wore gace masks. I’m sure that some of them suffered some lung damage but they were only doing it for 3 years so there wasn’t that much damage. We have since learned that when you work continuously in dusty condition you need protection from breathing in the junk, whatever it is.

This usually happened to asbestos miners, manufacturers, or shipbuilders. I wouldn’t worry or bother with testing if if was my place.

Thanks for the reassuring replies. I think it was a wool-blend blow-in insulation; even if it was asbestos, I can now go on knowing that two hours of exposure probably won’t kill me, especially since I did my best homemade Silkwood get-up I could (mask, covered all my parts, showered, etc)

In good news, my new ceiling is looking GREAT! Cheers, Jenn

Anectodally, when I was going to high school they decided to get rid of the asbestos insulation on some hot water pipes in the cafeteria. Big plastic sheets hanging all over, exhaust fans, etc.

Later on the principal told us that they’d had people testing, and found the asbestos concentration was higher outside than inside, due to the brake rotor dust when people stopped at the lights on the 4 lane road out front.