Understanding whether asbestos is located inside of drywall or not is important. Throughout the 1950s all the way through the 1980s, manufacturers often incorporated asbestos into drywall in order to absorb sound, improve fire resistance, and strengthen the drywall sheets.
In the mid-1980s, this practice was abandoned because of the health concerns that were being brought up regarding asbestos. While asbestos is no longer available in construction materials, still may be present within a wall.
The Importance of Learning Its Presence
Before you do anything to drywall, you want to test and see whether it has asbestos. When in doubt, it is better to treat the drywall as though it contains the material until you have it sampled and analyzed. Any kind of disturbance can create dust – and this dust can spread and be inhaled. When asbestos dust is inhaled, it can lead to a significant number of health problems – especially if it is being inhaled on a regular basis.
Particularly when you are sanding, it is going to create a significant amount of airborne dust. This makes it even harder for people to go in and out of the room without inhaling these asbestos fibers. Mesothelioma and other cancers have been traced back as originating from asbestos. As a result, you want to avoid at all costs.
Testing for Its Presence
One of the easiest ways to test for the presence of asbestos is to obtain a sample of the drywall and send it to a qualified lab in order to learn about whether it contains the material or not. When it comes time to obtaining a sample, it is better to hire a professional simply because they will know exactly how to obtain the sample and prepared properly to send to a lab. Various institutes and organizations, including the EPA, provide a list of lab in the country that is capable of testing for asbestos. There are two different tests available in order to determine whether asbestos is present in drywall or not.
Waiting for the Results
If you look at drywall with and without asbestos, you will not be able to tell the difference. Because of this, you will not be able to do anything with the drywall until you get the results back. This means that you do not want to try and remove the drywall, damage it, or disturb it in any way until you receive the test results from the samples that have been sent to the lab.
If asbestos is in the walls, you will want to seek professional assistance to have it removed. Likely, if the asbestos is in the walls, you may need to have the area of quarantine or a while in order to allow professionals to get in and remove it properly and allow all of the dust to settle and have it removed as well before you can go back inside and resume life or work as usual.
If there is asbestos behind the drywall but it is encapsulated with wallpaper or layers of paint, inhaling asbestos fibers is extremely low. As a result, some professionals may tell you that it may be best to leave the drywall up, even if it does have asbestos because the demolition and remodeling can provide greater risks.
Now, if asbestos is not in the walls, you can begin to drill sand or do anything else as required. Before you do any of this, you simply need to know what the risks are.