Asbestos sheet So I have just learned that the sheet embedded in the wall (see picture) is asbestos. We're going to get a new room made adjacent to this wall, and I need to get this sheet removed?

Unfortunately, there is no regulation related to asbestos in my country, and most people don't realize just how dangerous it can be. But I'm afraid that if I ask the contractor to get it removed, they'll break it, which will lead to spreading very harmful particles everywhere. What should I do?

  • Perhaps you should look at fixing the wiring as well...
    – Solar Mike
    Jan 15, 2020 at 12:37
  • Are you talking about an addition to the building that is going where the asbestos sheet is at the moment? Jan 15, 2020 at 12:42
  • @ThreePhaseEel That is correct. The plan so far is to start the ceiling of the new room just under the asbestos sheet.
    – xxxzx
    Jan 15, 2020 at 13:02
  • When they removed the asbest from the buildings opposite of mine, they prohibited the occupants of those buildings to enter their outside for 2 days, meanwhile the street, road and other buildings weren't given this tip. So either asbesthos is really dangerous, or it doesn't spread far. If you read the wiki of asbestos, there is a certain ppm of air that is asbestos.
    – Dr_Bunsen
    Jan 15, 2020 at 14:01
  • 1
    @MartinBonnersupportsMonica I edited my answer to better fit current state of the question, and put a disclaimer at the front.
    – Mołot
    Jan 15, 2020 at 14:13

4 Answers 4


I have looked and never been able to find any data that indicates there is any measurable risk from a single, limited, isolated exposure to asbestos like this job would entail.

Here is what I would do. I'd put on a dust mask, cut it off with a reciprocating saw, maybe with a shop vac on it to pick up the worst of the sawdust.

I'd put the cutoff in a garbage bag, empty the shop vacuum into the garbage bag, and tie the garbage bag shut while wearing the mask. I might hose down the area.

Obviously you would want to control the area to some extent so there's no kids, neighbors, etc. watching and being exposed to the dust.

The hazard with asbestos comes when it's in the air and you breath it and you're exposed to it repeatedly over time. The serious hazard is years of exposure, for example pipefitters and insulators that handled asbestos for years without protection had higher incidences of lung cancer, especially in smokers.

It's not a direct analogy but it's like smoking: it's dangerous but you are very very unlikely to get lung cancer from a smoking a single cigarette. (Fortunately asbestos is not addictive so you don't have to worry that this one job will lead to two packs of asbestos a day for the next 20 years.)

  • 5
    I would not use a reciprocating saw on asbestos cement. Jan 15, 2020 at 17:11
  • 1
    You could even spray down the area before you cut, so loose dust gets stuck to the moisture, and can later be hosed down (as suggested) afterward. That hopefully would mean less dust floating around. Going to an extreme, you could even drape a damp sheet over the sheet as you work (NOTE: obviously don't have any water near your electrical powertools). Also, maybe get the outside of your dust-mask wet? I don't know whether that'd improve or reduce filtration.
    – Jamin Grey
    Jan 16, 2020 at 2:09
  • @MartinBonnersupportsMonica This might be a dumb idea, but what if ducktape was placed on the line you intend to cut. Cutting through the middle of the ducktape would prevent the sheet from shattering and scattering everywhere... It wouldn't help any with the dust, though. I have zero experience with asbestos, and would absolutely get an experienced contractor to handle it if at all possible.
    – Jamin Grey
    Jan 16, 2020 at 2:10
  • Wow I would almost agree , as my answer suggest, but your answer sounds like Russian roulette! How many times can you pull the trigger prior to your demise? At least I recommend some precautions. Sorry but I cannot up vote . But won’t downvote because of the craze , sounds a lot like my answer in some ways and do agree to an extent !
    – Ed Beal
    Jan 16, 2020 at 3:54
  • @EdBeal - I think our answers are fairly close. I would wear a mask, I think that's the necessary and reasonable precaution for this work, and I would take simple, reasonable precautions to control and clean up the dust. I think that's really all it would take to make this task quite safe. Jan 16, 2020 at 8:59

Asbestos can cause problems but they are actually quite rare. Back in the 70’s and prior decades many building products had asbestos, popcorn ceilings, floor tile, siding, insulation, then things like brake shoes , to tell the truth after 40+ years in and around construction I have never known anyone that was affected , for many years I did demos without even a dust mask, people in the asbestos industry had life long jobs yes a few were affected , but , many thousands were not.

The issue is it can be lethal , so strict rules were enacted , heck my little brother is having a swimming pool installed and they had to monitor for asbestos in the earth. I can’t even count the numbers of trenches I dug by hand without a dust mask and even more with a back hoe.

I now use dust masks and normally wear a tyvek suit to be safe, wet the material down with water to try and reduce the chance of creating airborne fibers. In my area it can be put in plastic bags and taken to a dump (not a transfer station). It sounds like your country it may be able to be put directly in the garbage like we did for many years.

I think some go overboard but it can be lethal so risk mitigation steps need to be taken. You may find other building materials also contain asbestos so wearing a dust mask while the work is being done is a good idea and frequent wipe down of countertops with a wet cloth.


Removing the asbestos isn't your only option. If there's no safe, practical way to remove it, you can also encapsulate it. This entails applying some sort of sealant to the outside of the asbestos material that will bind the fibers together and prevent them from crumbling or flaking.

Since your ceiling will be lower than the asbestos sheet and since the sheet appears to be passing through a load-bearing wall, it may make more sense to leave it where it is and encapsulate it instead.

  • Sorry not close the op said this had to be removed to make the addition, did you read the op’s concerns? -
    – Ed Beal
    Jan 16, 2020 at 3:56
  • @EdBeal - The question asked if it had to be removed. Many people assume removal is the only option, so I'm making sure OP knows there are other things he can do.
    – bta
    Jan 17, 2020 at 2:26
  • With the remodel and that material embedded in the wall I would want it gone. Many folks only hear the hype on asbestos and panic. But trying to work around that even if painted when hammering or any kind of vibration on the wall can cause airborne fibers , so it is best to remove and not have to worry about it.
    – Ed Beal
    Jan 17, 2020 at 14:19
  • @EdBeal - I'd rather have it gone too, but OP doesn't seem to have access to someone who can remove it safely. When properly encapsulated (not merely painted), you don't have to worry about those problems you mention. Encapsulation binds the fibers in place and prevents them from breaking loose, even when disturbed.
    – bta
    Jan 17, 2020 at 20:01
  • How do you encapsulate the attachment points this is where the fibers come from when the fasteners are removed or it breaks, this is why pros saturate with water.
    – Ed Beal
    Jan 17, 2020 at 20:07

Disclaimer: I may be over-cautious about it. There was asbestos panic in my country when I was growing up.

Carefully, preferably using qualified contractor even if you would have to pay someone from further away.

I mean, yes, any time when you want to ask "should I get rid of asbestos in or near my living area?" the answer is yes you should.

You should not do it yourself. Asbestos just being there releases carcinogenic particles relatively slowly. Asbestos being cut by someone who does not know how to do it releases a lot o them in a short time, and they'll be everywhere in and near your home. It might be expensive to hire reputable contractor, but it is the only way to be safe.

From my experience, contractors that are skilled in asbestos removal make a pretty big point out of it, and you can easily see it in their web page etc. Your mileage may vary, of course. And if you'll see them cutting or breaking it without any protection (water, plastic foil, masks on faces etc) definitely tell them to stop and kick them out of your property.

If you do not have any contractor trained to work with asbestos in your area, or willing to go to our area, the safest way is just let it be until you find one. Painting it with something that would prevent dust will help. I've seen oil-based paint and tar used for this purpose, but I am not a certified pro in this matter so you are doing it or not doing it on your own responsibility. If you will, buy really good dust mask, one that'll protect your lungs and eyes, and do not touch it more than you have to.

Last but not least, there are good guides / codes on asbestos removal on government sites around the world. Easiest to read seems to be Australian (and specifically for small jobs here ). It boils down to:

  • Everything should be dripping wet
  • Wrap everything in thick plastic foil
  • Protect yourself
  • Do not touch if you can avoid it

I wouldn't dare to do it, honestly, but if I had to, I would read their guide and linked document before attempting it.

  • I have just spoken to the contractors. They will remove it, but I'm certain that they don't know that asbestos is dangerous, and that they don't have any specific training about dealing with it. How should I go about this? What I said will be true for virtually all contractors in my area
    – xxxzx
    Jan 15, 2020 at 13:32
  • @xxxzx updated once more
    – Mołot
    Jan 15, 2020 at 13:56
  • The airborne fibers are where it may pose a problem handling it is not an issue. We wear tyvek or other suits so the fibers that land on us are eliminated when the suit is discarded usually after a rinse down. Keeping positive pressure in the living area is a good choice also, that sheet being outside not inside reduces the risk. Encapsulation with paint is a safe way to seal it up and have it in a living space without risk. I have never seen it encapsulated then removed.
    – Ed Beal
    Jan 15, 2020 at 15:16

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