Testing for asbestos in a popcorn ceiling involves collecting samples and sending them to a lab. If the ceiling requires testing, the best practice is hiring a professional asbestos tester to collect the sample and send to the laboratory. If you suspect a popcorn ceiling contains asbestos, but it is in otherwise good condition, the agency recommends leaving it alone. The collection of a sample by an untrained homeowner can release asbestos fibers.
When asbestos materials are in good shape and are not releasing fibers, they are relatively safe; however, home occupants should not cut, drill, sand or scrape them. If there is damage to the material or you have plans for a remodeling project, and the ceiling tests positive for asbestos, the options are removing it or encasing it. While most locations allow the removal of the materials by the homeowner with the aid of unpaid family members, this action can expose the family to more asbestos fibers. A better option is enlisting a professional.
In some areas, asbestos removal requires a special permit. Some jurisdictions also require disposal of asbestos containing materials as hazardous waste. While professional teams are familiar with the codes concerning these requirements, homeowners with questions should contact their local building department.