Asbestos could still be lurking  in your home or workplace – and it may be looking down on you all the while!

If you are living or working in a property that may have had extensive renovation work carried out before 1980 and which included the installation of the widely popular ‘suspended ceiling’, it is crucially important for you to know that the original tiles – including tiles that may be stored on premises for replacing damaged ceiling tiles – probably contain asbestos.

The construction industry widely used asbestos in numerous building materials and construction workers – especially those who worked in the industry before 1980 – were likely to have been exposed to the toxic mineral. Anyone who worked with insulation, acoustic ceiling tiles, acoustic tiles, spray on insulation and decorative plaster may have been regularlyexposed .

T-bar ceiling systems, often known as “suspended ceilings” and “drop ceilings”, consist of a metal grid which holds lightweight tiles. If the T-bar ceiling system was installed earlier than 1980, there is a good chance that the T-bar ceiling tiles contain at least 1 percent asbestos fibres. T-bar ceiling tiles are especially dangerous since they are often friable (they can be crumbled by hand pressure alone), and may be lifted and removed easily, scattering asbestos-containing dust into the rooms over which they are hung. Exposure to asbestos can cause the development of serious illnesses such as asbestosis, or mesothelioma, an aggressive form of cancer.

If you or a member of your family, were installing drop ceilings anytime from the 1950s to the 1980s, there is a 99% certainty of exposure to high concentrations of asbestos dust, particularly if involved in the cutting of T-bar ceiling tiles to fit spaces in the grid layout.

In addition, if you worked in remodelling or renovation through to as recently as the early 1990s, and any of your jobs included replacing 1950s and 1960s era drop ceilings, or any drop ceilings installed before 1980, you may have been exposed to asbestos. Finally, if you wore your work clothing home, your family and friends may also have been exposed to ‘secondary asbestos’ exposure. It is critically important to seek asbestos advice as early as possible to determine eligibility for asbestos compensation.

Inhaled and ingested asbestos fibres can become lodged in organs and body cavities, causing inflammation and infection, and over a long ‘latency’ period of up to 30-40 years or even more, asbestosis symptoms finally appear. Developing mesothelioma causes thickening of the tissue sacs around the lungs, or in rarer cases, around the heart or the organs in the abdomen. This fine lining – usually one layer thick – lubricates and protect the organs, to allow free movement. Mesothelioma causes the tissue cells to reproduce rapidly and thicken.

Many manufacturers of fibreglass insulating tiles and ceiling tiles often knew of the hazards of asbestos exposure but did not inform their workforce. A lack of asbestos awareness inevitably led to the developing of asbestos-related diseases and it was only some time afterwards that legal redress and an asbestosis claim would be made.