Popcorn ceilings were source of asbestos in Jacksonville Townhouse Apartments

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We now know the source of the asbestos found in a Jacksonville high-rise, and it’s something that could be in your living room right now.

After a fire displaced about 200 people in HUD-subsidized high-rise Jacksonville Townhouse Apartments on Philips Highway, contractors found asbestos in the building.

Through a public records request, Action News Jax got hold of a letter from an industrial hygienist, who reveals the source of the asbestos inside the building was the popcorn ceilings.

“You lay down, and you go to bed and you’re looking up and … I don’t know how many times I’ve thought about the popcorn ceilings,” said Dawn Richey, who moved back into her unit on the 6th floor less than two weeks ago.

The letter from J.S. Held said a contractor removed asbestos in the community room, laundry room and 27 units on the 1st through sixth floors.

When the letter was written, on Feb. 1, the asbestos on the seventh floor still had not been removed.

Tenants have since moved back in.

Cambridge Management has not responded to Action News Jax’s questions about which specific units on the seventh floor had asbestos removed.

The eighth floor, where the fire was caused by a heating and A/C unit, is still off limits until asbestos abatement is complete.

No asbestos removal was required on the ninth and 10th floors.

Richey’s unit was not on the list of places where asbestos had to be removed.

“Praise the Lord,” said Richey.

Multiple asbestos contractors tell Action News Jax, that if your home was built in the 1980s or earlier, it’s common for popcorn ceiling texture to contain asbestos.

“That doesn’t mean that some of that material, as it’s starting to take off the shelf, may not have been used in buildings even in the early ’90s,” said Atlas Inspections & Construction Consulting owner Jim Cocuzza.

If you have popcorn ceilings that you suspect may contain asbestos, don’t try to remove it yourself, because asbestos becomes dangerous when disturbed; Cocuzza said your best bet is to get it tested professionally.


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