In 1977, the United States banned asbestos as patching compounds to shore up ceiling joints and in textured paint and soundproofing material. The mere presence of asbestos is not a serious issue in itself, but homeowners should avoid doing anything to disturb asbestos as to not release its dangerous fibers.
Asbestos releases tiny fibers that irritate the lungs and that have been linked to lung cancer. Scraping off textured ceilings or drilling through patched-up ceiling joints that contain asbestos can release these fibers in the air. If a homeowner suspects his ceiling may contain asbestos, he should call a professional to inspect the home before any renovation project.