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Drywall layers (C) Daniel FriedmanAsbestos Content in Drywall & Joint Compound
What drywall or drywall products & finish systems contain asbestos

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Does drywall or "sheetrock" contain asbestos?

This article explains where asbestos is likely to be found in gypsum board or drywall systems, particularly in the taping compound and in skim coats using drywall "mud" that contained asbestos.



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Asbestos content in Drywall, wallboard or "Sheetrock" or gypsum board & in joint compound

Horizontal drywall runs (C) D Friedman Eric GalowModern drywall and taping compound do not contain asbestos. However that was not always the case, as we detail here.

Excerpting from our master list of asbestos-containing products, ASBESTOS LIST of PRODUCTS we report the following example of evidence of the use of asbestos in drywall or gypsum board.

Principally you'll find that references to asbestos in a drywall system focus on asbestos that was contained in joint compound or in some paint or spray products such as "popcorn ceiling paint" that may have been sprayed on drywall ceilings.

Keep in mind that asbestos-containing joint compound may have been applied not only up to 18" wide over drywall joints but also in patches, repairs, around penetrations or fixtures, and in some buildings as a skim coat over an entire wall or ceiling surface.

[Click to enlarge any image]

Drywall systems that may contain asbestos - at least in finishes, taping joint compounds, skim coats, or in systems that applied plaster over gypsum board date from about 1910 through the early 1980's in North America (1982 in Canada). Taping drywall joints dates from as early as the 1920's. Asbestos-use in plaster overlaps this period.

In Canada most provinces classify the asbestos hazard associated with drywall removal as a "low risk or type 1" hazard requiring normal dust control. (Pinchin 2011). The U.S. advice is typified by the U.S. EPA quotes included in the citation below.

Also see notes on the widespread use of asbestos in plaster and plaster products
at PLASTER TYPES & METHODS in BUILDINGS
and
at PLASTER INGREDIENTS, MIX, COMPONENTS

Asbestos Content in Joint Compound or Drywall "Mud"

Drywall or "joint compound" asbestos content: on older buildings may contain asbestos fibers. Asbestos was [probably] universally used in drywall joint compound prior to the early 1980's.

In joint compound the asbestos content varied but typically was between 3-6%.

Even if the gypsum board itself did not contain asbestos this means that by weight the asbestos content of the wall system was about 0.25%. (Redmond 2011), "Sheetrock mud" is a synonym for drywall compound or joint compound that before 1978 may have contained asbestos fibers.

Question: what kinds of asbestos were used in drywall joint compound: Chrisotile or Amphibole?

2016/06/14, Anonymous said:

What variety of asbestos was used in drywall, Chrisotile or amphibole?

Reply: Primarily Chrisotile but Amphibole may be present in drywall compound

Both Chrisotile and Amphibole asbestos were the first and second most-widely used forms of asbestos used in many building products. In drywall compound from what I've found, Chrisotile was used, but Amphibole was also present.

Until the mid–1970s, however, some joint compounds contained chrysotile asbestos as a filler in the range of 5–15% by weight.(1,5) Amphibole mineral fragments, most commonly in the tremolite series, were reported as sometimes present in concentrations of 2–12%, likely as a contaminant in the chrysotile or talc, ...

... Published historical data on amphibole mineral contaminants in joint compound, however, do not provide sufficient information to conclude that the minerals were amphibole asbestiform fibers and not elongate tremolite cleavage fragments.

Until the characteristics of the mineral being studied are clearly determined, there will be confusion as to the biological effect of asbestos and nonasbestos amphibole minerals.

Exposure monitoring in the 1970s reported peak asbestos fiber concentrations (as total fibers) in excess of the then Threshold Limit Value (TLV) of 5 fibers longer than 5 μm per cc (5 f/cc) during the mixing of dry-mix joint compound with water,(9) sanding of joint compound, and clean-up activities. - (Boelter 2015)

Research Citations Documenting the Asbestos Content in Joint Compound & Gypsum Board or Drywall Finish Systems

Gypsolite wallboard advertisement, ca 1926, Universal Gypsum Company at InspectApedia.comAt above/left, a Gypsolite wallboard advertisement from 1926, placed by the Universal Gypsum Company, 111 W. Washington St., Chicago IL.

Some gypsum board or drywall products may have contained asbestos and asbestos was also commonly used in joint compound and other drywall or gypsum board coatings. Gypsolite, first mentioned in building products in 1888, is currently a registered trademark of National Gypsum.

[Click to enlarge any image]

Chrisotile asbestos content in drywall compound includes

Research on Asbestos Content in Drywall, Gypsum Board Products, Joint Compound, Drywall Mud, Textured Coatings

Asbestos in Drywall or gypsum board products & asbestos content in drywall joint compound, drywall "mud", and textured coatings; includes Chrysotile asbestos, the most common form of asbestos found in products, especially in buildings (serpentine mineral with sheet or layered structure).

What is the Actual Level of Asbestos Found in Joint Compound or Drywall Systems?

Drywall or "joint compound" asbestos content: on older buildings may contain asbestos fibers. Asbestos was universally used in drywall joint compound prior to the early 1980's. In joint compound the asbestos content varied but typically was between 3-6%.

Plaster disclosure research often helps identify products that contained asbestos even though some disclosures do not give percentages of asbestos in the product mix.

For example, Kaiser Gypsum Company, Inc. produced joint compound in at least three product lines that may have contained asbestos including Kaiser Gypsum Joint Compound and Kaiser One-Day Joint Compound produced between 1953 and 1975, Kaiser Dual Purpose Joint Compund (un-dated) and Kaiser "Hard Top" insulating cement produced between 1964 and 1972.

Refractory cement used in heating boilers and possibly in some fireplaces in the form of a cementioius plaster may also have contained asbestos.\

Note that many of these drywall and joint compound producers also produced products specifically identified as "asbestos free", such as US Gypsum's asbestos-free joint compound patented in 1975 and cited below.

Even if the gypsum board itself did not contain asbestos this means that by weight the asbestos content of the wall system was about 0.25%. (Redmond 2011), "Sheetrock mud" is a synonym for drywall compound or joint compound that before 1978 may have contained asbestos fibers.

Drywall & Joint Compound Asbestos Remediation

Reader Question:

I wrote you a few years ago asking asbestos questions. Myself and other neighbors foolishly handled asbestos after being told our homes didn't contain asbestos. Only one neighbor was smart enough to have their popcorn tested and to our shock it contained asbestos.

Anyway, I went and had my house tested. I had a guy come out and looked over the house. While there is asbestos in other places but I know to leave it alone.

You were so helpful and I am so grateful. I am in need of your expertise again.

Years ago I had a company remove my popcorn ceiling from the living room and hallway. When they did the removal some of the tape came off and a few years later I had cracks. I filled the cracks with caulk. When the asbestos inspector came out you couldn't see the cracks. I had forgotten all about them.

The mud used on the drywall tape had asbestos but little right around 1 percent. My ducts/attic didn't have asbestos. The cracks are back and they get larger in the winter. Should I have behind the ceiling or walls tested? I am concerned that if the ceiling is lined that it would be releasing fibers. Do homes have their drywall lined with asbestos? My house was built in 1976 in California.

I am imagining it would be expensive to have this test. I am a single mom with three kids so I don't have much money to spare.

Your input last time was truly appreciated and helpful. - Anon [by private email 2015/12/24] -

Reply:

My OPINION, based on reading about drywall asbestos hazards (principally in the mud or joint compound) is that the risk from a crack appearing is probably below the limits of asbestos detection indoors in a home.

Proper repairs, so as not to keep seeing cracks, is to use fiberglass mesh drywall tape and modern (non-asbestos) joint compound, feathering out the joint to at least 18", wider is better. Properly taped and compounded and then wet-sanded or sponged the joints will become invisible to the eye even when shining a light along the wall.

The re-paint the repaired walls or ceilings.

I'd like to see photos of the cracks and of any repair you do.

More details are at DRYWALL CRACKS and

also see Steve Bliss's article: DRYWALL INSTALLATION Best Practices

Question: does this asbestos product from a 1969 home contain asbestos? What percentage of asbestos?

Drywall fromn 1969, marking identification, asbestos content (C) InspectApedia.comnRan across this in a remodel project. Home was built in ’69. From your website, it seems it contains asbestos, correct? Do you happen to know the percentage? - Anonymous by private email 2017/09/14

[Click to enlarge any image] The fraction of yellow text imprinted on this drywall from a U.S. home built in 1969 is given below with [in brackets a guess at missing text]

[U.S. GY ] ... PSUM - WATER-REPELLENT - ?

WITH - SHEATHING COMPLYIN [G WITH ASTM ....]

-79-50 ASTM SPECIFICATIONS [...]

Reply: Drywall and gypsum board manufactured from 1920 to at least 1976 often included asbestos as we describe here.

Thank you for the photo and question, [anonymous]. Yes, some drywall and plaster board products from as early as 1920 and running through as late as 1976 had asbestos added to improve strength and fire-resistance.

In our article SHEATHING, GYPSUM BOARD you will find another and more-complete illustration of the yellow-writing stamped on your gypsum board, from a building in New York State. There we point out that asbestos was used in a number of National Gypsum Gold Bond™ gypsum board products produced between 1950 and 1970.

Asbestos was not used in National Gypsum gypsum-board products after that year. Other gypsum board or "drywall" producing companies produced gypsum board that contained asbestos.

In that article you'll see very similarly-stamped water-resistant gypsum board sheathing stamped as in compliance with ASTM Standard ASTM C79/C79M-04a. According to ASTM, this specification was withdrawn in December 2004 and replaced by Specification C 1396/C 1396M for Gypsum Board.

White crhysotile asbestos fibers and possibly filler paste were added by some manufacturers to plaster that in turn was added to water-resistant and other drywall in order improve the fire resistance of that product.

Some of these products may also contain tremolite (a form of amphibole asbestos) as an inadvertent contaminant from asbestos mining of chrysotile, and also they may include vermiculite that, depending on where it was mined, also contains asbestos (Libby).

There were over thirty such products produced by at least six U.S. manufacturers, so I cannot cite nor have I found a specific asbestos content by percentage for that drywall or tileboard or water-resistant tile backer that was used in some bathrooms.

Keep in mind that most sources find the greater levels of asbestos were in joint compound used at joints that were taped, then normally also painted.

If the drywall in your photo is undisruubed by sawing, grinding, chopping etc. then it's very unlikely that any measurable level of asbestos from that source would be detected inside the home you describe. Still it would be appropriate to warn occupants about proper handling of drywall during any future remodeling or repair efforts.

Near the top of ASBESTOS in DRYWALL we note

In joint compound the asbestos content varied but typically was between 3-6%.

Even if the gypsum board itself did not contain asbestos this means that by weight the asbestos content of the wall system was about 0.25%. (Redmond 2011), "Sheetrock mud" is a synonym for drywall compound or joint compound that before 1978 may have contained asbestos fibers.

Also see ASBESTOS PRODUCING COMPANIES and see ASBESTOS LIST of PRODUCTS.

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Continue reading at ASBESTOS IDENTIFICATION IN BUILDINGS or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.

Or see ASBESTOS in DRYWALL FAQs - questions & answers posted originally at the end of this article.

Or see AIR HANDLER DUST CONTAMINATION - drywall dust in HVAC equipment

Or see ASBESTOS PHOTO GUIDE to MATERIALS

Or see ASBESTOS LIST of PRODUCTS

Or see CELOTEX DRYWALL ASBESTOS

Or see DRYWALL, FIBERBOARD, PLASTER INTERIORS - home

Or see DRYWALL FINISH LEVELS

Or see DRYWALL GREEN LOW TOXICITY

Or see DRYWALL MOLD TESTING

Or see WALL FINISHES INTERIOR - home

Also see notes on the widespread use of asbestos in plaster and plaster products
at PLASTER TYPES & METHODS in BUILDINGS
and
at PLASTER INGREDIENTS, MIX, COMPONENTS

Also see MESOTHELIOMA doctors, organizations, treatment resources, legal advice.

Suggested citation for this web page

ASBESTOS in DRYWALL at InspectApedia.com - online encyclopedia of building & environmental inspection, testing, diagnosis, repair, & problem prevention advice.

INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES: ARTICLE INDEX to ASBESTOS HAZARDS

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