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I'm pulling down a few walls in my 1984 house. I had a company come in to do professional asbestos sampling. I told them my plan and which walls I was going to remove and they only sampled the joint compound as well as the popcorn ceiling material. Test came back indicating zero trace of asbestos for all tests.

I'm a bit confused why they didn't care about sampling the wallboard itself. Some sources say that wallboard itself never contains asbestos, other say it may. What your thoughts? Should I get the wallboard itself tested? It's a "Westroc Firestop-6" wallboard.

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The short answer is: yes, wallboard can contain asbestos, but it's unlikely. The reason is that regular gypsum drywall panels had a decent fire rating, unlike the seam joints, which would have to be finished with a fire-proofing material, as asbestos (I say had as during the times when they used asbestos, up until the mid 80s) . You're very likely to find asbestos-containing panels around fireplaces and in floor tiles, but it would have been unnecessarily expensive to do entire walls out of asbestos-containing sheets.

Other places you may find asbestos (from the Georgia Environment, Health and Safety Department website):

  1. STEAM PIPES, BOILERS, and FURNACE DUCTS (insulated with an asbestos blanket or asbestos paper tape)
  2. RESILIENT FLOOR TILES (vinyl asbestos, asphalt, and rubber), the backing on
  3. VINYL SHEET FLOORING, and ADHESIVES used for installing floor tile.
  4. CEMENT SHEET,MILLBOARD, and PAPER (used as insulation around furnaces and woodburning stoves)
  5. DOOR GASKETS in furnaces, wood stoves, and coal stoves.
  6. SOUNDPROOFING OR DECORATIVE MATERIAL sprayed on walls and ceilings.
  7. PATCHING AND JOINT COMPOUNDS for walls and ceilings, and TEXTURED PAINTS
  8. ASBESTOS CEMENT ROOFING, SHINGLES, and SIDING.
  • Thanks, I appreciate the response. I didn't consider that asbestos panels could be more costly, but that makes sense. I've read several more articles after posting and I couldn't find much mention about the boards themselves contain asbestos (at least for residential) so I think I'll be safe to demo the walls (will wear a P100 respirator for good measure). – RadianDynamics Jun 30 at 8:39
  • I have also searched for the company's website, and couldn't find it. An old MSDS would be the definitive answer. – FerK Jun 30 at 10:47

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