Until the 1980s, asbestos was a popular building insulation material. But because of its history of causing lung cancer and other illnesses, builders stopped using asbestos products.
Though the construction industry no longer uses asbestos, you can still find it behind drywall, ceiling tiles, pipe insulation, and floor tiles in many older buildings.
As long as the asbestos is not in a friable form (where you can crush it into dust) and exposed to your occupant areas, it’s not a health risk.
But with age, your drywalls could experience wear and damage, which could lead to asbestos exposure. Preventative maintenance helps, but it’s ultimately a temporary fix. To permanently eliminate the risk of asbestos exposure, you need to remove the asbestos.
Is Asbestos in Drywall Dangerous?
As we noted earlier, as long as the asbestos isn’t disturbed and left behind sealed drywall with no risk of exposure, asbestos fibres are not dangerous.
However, if you know (or should know) of asbestos in your building, you must put your building under an asbestos management program (AMP). The Ontario government requires any building with asbestos-containing materials (ACM) to have an AMP.
You can’t avoid an AMP if you have asbestos.
The owners of commercial and residential buildings must submit a Designated Substance Survey (DSS) to contractors before demolition and renovation work. Similarly, potential property buyers will ask for a DSS as due diligence as well.
The DSS will show if you have asbestos materials on your property.
Use This Quick Checklist to See if Your Drywall
is Releasing Asbestos Fibers.
The goal of an AMP is to prevent asbestos insulation in your drywall from becoming a health risk for your occupants. Under an AMP, you’ll need to document the areas that contain asbestos and note the condition of the area (e.g., does the drywall have cracks?).
You’ll need to regularly conduct inspections and update your asbestos report at least once every year. If you have damaged drywall, the AMP requires you to either fix it or remove the asbestos through an abatement program.
Asbestos in Drywall Removal Options
When it comes to removing asbestos from your drywall, you have two options:
- Remove the asbestos yourself if the work area is smaller than 10 square feet (i.e., a Type 1 project).
- Call a professional abatement company to remove the asbestos for you in work areas larger than 10 square feet (i.e., Type 2) or larger than 100 square feet (i.e., Type 3).
Unless you’re dealing with a small section of your drywall, most abatement projects will be Type 2 or Type 3. In these situations, there’s a high risk of exposure to asbestos fibers, so you need the help of a professional contractor to safely remove the asbestos.
Need More Information about Asbestos in Drywall?
- What are the Types of Asbestos Removal?
- Ontario’s Asbestos Removal & Disposal Regulations
- How to Manage Asbestos in Buildings
- Understanding Asbestos Removal Legislation & Regulation
- How to Remove Asbestos Pipe Insulation
- How to Identify & Remove Asbestos in Linoleum Flooring
For example, a professional asbestos removal contractor will stop the asbestos fibers from spreading to other areas by setting-up barriers and reversing the air flow. They’ll also provide their technicians
with protective gear and specialized cleaning equipment (like HEPA filter vacuums).
After the abatement work, you’ll need to call in a professional environmental consulting for asbestos testing. They’ll check the work area to see if your contractors have removed all of
the asbestos. If they haven’t, you’ll then need to repeat the work.
It’s best to avoid these situations and remove the asbestos from your drywall correctly the first time. Otherwise, you’ll not only put you and your occupants at risk of health hazards, but you’ll end up spending more money on the work than necessary.
Keep your occupants safe from asbestos-related hazards and restore the property value of your building. Call FERRO Environmental today to get started with your asbestos removal work.