I know very little about drywall/home improvement, but this question is more less due to my health anxiety, which often drives me to worry about obscure things around me. I moved into my current townhouse last fall, and it comes with a "basement" that is on the ground floor, that has unpainted walls, with mudding/whatever else they put on drywall normally. Today, I was moving things around in there, bumped up against the wall, and a lot of white paint/dust/mudding came off on my shirt. This got my brain going, and I'm just wondering, is it safe to be around unpainted drywall like this? I'm thinking along the lines of breathing in the dust, even though I normally am not disturbing the walls like I did today...

I know this question my seem silly, but often times when I'm anxious about this kind of stuff, asking questions like this to strangers helps put me at ease.

The walls look like this picture, for reference. The place is brand new, so I feel like I shouldn't have to worry too much about dangerous chemicals and the like, but I still worry from time to time.

  • its rock dust, we've been breathing it since the beginning...
    – dandavis
    Jun 15, 2018 at 17:55

1 Answer 1


At best, breathing drywall or drywall compound (mud) dust can irritate your respiratory system and is best avoided. One problem is that it is very fine and if you sand it much, you need to use special masks that can filter the fine particles, plus you don't want to use a regular vacuum to clean it up - I believe it will clog the filters. This mainly concerns people who work with it regularly, and a small amount is normally not anything to worry about unless it causes physical respiratory symptoms. Some people are more susceptible to this, like asthma sufferers.

I would want to at least paint the walls and joints with primer paint as soon as possible. I'm surprised if that has not been done.

  • Agreed. It's unlikely to be anything MORE than irritating - but you'll do well to vacuum the walls then apply a coat of primer. Jun 15, 2018 at 12:24
  • 1
    Old primer is a really substandard painting surface, so it's not surprising that they left it unfinished. It's sadly also not surprising that they wouldn't spring for even a single topcoat of some neutral color. Jun 15, 2018 at 18:04
  • @MatthewGauthier - good points. I didn't think about how long the primer can be left unpainted. Seems to depend on the primer, but it looks like 30 days may be the maximum. Jun 15, 2018 at 18:38

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