Did you know that it was common to use asbestos in drywall and other applications throughout the 20th century? That is until they were banned in 1977.
But what is asbestos, and why is using this material banned?
Asbestos is a naturally occurring carcinogenic material that was widely used in construction materials in the 1930s – 1950s due to its fire-resistant and insulating properties. However, it has since been linked to serious health problems such as mesothelioma and lung cancer. Because of this, its use has been greatly restricted and banned in many countries.
In this post, we’ll delve into what you need to know about asbestos in drywall, including its history, potential health risks, how to identify it, and what to do if you suspect it in your drywall.
Health Concerns Regarding Asbestos in Drywall
Asbestos is a fibrous material that can be inhaled and trapped within the body. This leads to irritation and scarring of the respiratory tract and other organs.
The irritation and scarring can cause a variety of health problems, including:
- Shortness of breath
- Persistent cough
- Chest pain
- Difficulty swallowing
- Weight loss
- Lung cancer
- Pleural effusions and plaques
Asbestos exposure symptoms may not appear immediately. In fact, it can take decades for the health effects of exposure to become remotely apparent. This makes it vital to always be aware of the potential presence of asbestos in your home and to take steps to minimize your risk of exposure.
In most cases, exposure to asbestos occurs through the inhalation of its fibers. You can be exposed when asbestos-containing materials are disturbed, releasing fibers into the air.
The risk of exposure is greatest for individuals who work with these materials on a regular basis, like those in automotive repair, firefighting, and building and equipment maintenance.
However, individuals and families who live in homes built before asbestos in drywalls were banned may also be at risk of exposure if the drywalls are damaged or disturbed.
History of Using Asbestos in Drywall
During the 20th century, before its ban in 1977, asbestos was commonly used in a variety of building materials, including drywall. Using asbestos in drywall was particularly popular during the mid-20th century when it was used as a means of fireproofing buildings, reducing the risk of fire-related damage, and as reinforcement material for drywall panels.
Asbestos fibers were mixed with other materials, such as plaster or paper, to create the once-popular asbestos-containing drywall to use in both residential and commercial buildings.
These drywalls were particularly popular in the construction of schools and other public buildings.
In addition to its fire-resistant and insulating properties, asbestos was also inexpensive and readily available. It was also a durable material that was resistant to decay, making it an attractive choice for builders.
If you suspect that there may be asbestos in the drywall of your home or workplace, it is crucial to take action to determine its presence and address it appropriately.
There are several visual signs that may indicate the presence of asbestos in drywall. For example, asbestos-containing drywalls may be marked with warning labels or other markings that indicate the presence of asbestos.
In some cases, asbestos-containing drywall may also have a distinct appearance. They may have a different color or texture than non-asbestos drywall.
If you have any reason to suspect that your drywall may contain asbestos, it’s vital that you have it properly tested by a qualified professional.
Asbestos testing can be performed by a trained and certified asbestos professional, who can assess the mineral’s presence and recommend the appropriate steps for addressing it.
Asbestos testing is generally inexpensive and can be performed quickly, making it an affordable and vital step in identifying and addressing the presence of asbestos in drywall.
Removing Asbestos From Your Drywall
Once you’ve confirmed the presence of asbestos in your drywall, it’s important to take steps to remove it to protect yourself and others from the potential health risks associated with asbestos exposure.
There are several safety precautions that should be taken into account when removing asbestos in drywall. This is because the asbestos fibers are so minuscule that they’re easily inhaled and trapped within the body.
In order to minimize the risk of exposure, it’s important to use protective equipment such as:
- Protective clothing
It’s also vital that you seal off the area where the asbestos removal is taking place to prevent the spread of the fibers through the air.
However, no matter how many safety precautions you take, it’s best not to risk a devastating illness and to work with a professional to remove asbestos in drywall.
Asbestos removal can be a complex and hazardous process, and it’s important to have the work performed by trained and certified professionals. This is because professionals are fully equipped to handle asbestos safely.
Asbestos professionals will be able to assess the extent of the asbestos contamination and develop a plan for safely removing the mineral from your drywall. They’ll also be able to properly dispose of any asbestos-containing materials in accordance with local regulations.
At the end of the day, it’s still vital to be aware of the potential presence of asbestos in your home or workplace, particularly in materials that it was commonly used in, like drywalls.
If you’re located in the Portland, OR, area and are concerned about the presence of asbestos in drywall, don’t hesitate to reach out to Alpha Environmental Services.
Our team of qualified professionals can help you identify and remove asbestos from your home or workplace, ensuring that you and your family are protected from the potentially devastating health risks associated with asbestos exposure.