2% Asbestos in Drywall Joint Compound - what to do?

Old 06-01-16, 06:31 PM
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2% Asbestos in Drywall Joint Compound - what to do?

I recently started a kitchen renovation. My house was built in 1961 and the walls were covered with sheetrock then paper to make the seams smooth I believe. While bringing down a wall some of the paper from the ceiling ripped off with the sheetrock. Since I knew asbestos was still used in those days I figure I would play it safe and get a few things tested. Everything came back clean with the exception of the joint compound from the paper. It ended up containing 2% chrysotile asbestos.

I am now faces with a few options but do not know what path I should take.

My first option would be to use get an asbestos rated mask, disposable suit, and take to it myself with a spray bottle to reduce the dust as I use a drywall saw to take everything down. However, I am worried for my health and my families health with this option since it would be the first time I am doing such a thing.

The other option is to just hire someone to remove it all. While I can imagine the cost would be high, I would have peace of mind.

I wanted to post this here just get the communities feedback on doing this myself. Would you recommend I take this on solo? If you do what are some good precautions I should take and how should I even approach doing this? I already have the area sealed off as and will even seal it off a bit more later on. Any advice or stories of your own DIY removal would be beneficial in helping me figure out what to do next.
Old 06-01-16, 07:20 PM
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I'm not going to get into a debate about the dangers of asbestos. Personally, I wouldn't sweat it but it's all about your comfort level, not mine. All I would suggest in addition to the mask and hazmat suit is to add a few drops of dish detergent to your spray bottle to decrease the surface tension and help it soak faster. You don't necessarily have to saw through the taped joints, you can cut through those areas with a knife, especially if you soften it up with the spray.
Old 06-01-16, 07:47 PM
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Not a pro on this topic, but if you want it cleaned up your only choice is to hire an approved asbestos remediation company. Now that it is on the record as testing positive you need to be able to tell people where it went and saying I did it myself is a poor answer. Essentially, when you are through the house might still be classified as contaminated.

2% nonfriable material is discussed in the NJ link below. I only skimmed it but it looks like something you might want to read. One section I notes cautioned against improper demolition that might disturb the otherwise contained asbestos. Your drywall saw comment doesn't sound good. Again, not a pro but this link may help:
NJDEP New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection

Old 06-01-16, 08:13 PM
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I hope this isn't going too far out there... into the land of bad advice, but I think there has to be some sort of balance struck, and we all should know by now that isn't one of the govt's strong suits. I like this article. Study Revisits the Health Risk of Chrysotile; In 2013, Why is This Still Up For Debate?

But I also don't want to debate what's dangerous and what's not. That's not my place, i dont make the rules. It's just funny that they are still debating something that we all thought was settled long ago. And guess what... there's many parts of the world where it's just fine to build with way higher concentrations than that. So why is it ok for them and not for us?

Officially, the gov't doesn't even care about anything containing <1% chrysotile asbestos. Grind it up and snort it for all they care. So you say you have 2x that.... or 2%. Just reasoning on that would lead me to believe that there was someone who had a desk job in Washington that said... yes, let's make it ok for someone to tear out 4,000 sq ft of drywall as long as it's 1% or less. We dont care... its not a health risk and we will look the other way. But if it's 2%... whoa Nelly, hold it right there Mister... you just crossed the line- you shouldn't even tear off 10 sq ft. without taking all kinds of precautions and regulations. (How does that math make ANY sense?)

So let's say you hire someone. Might even be from a reputable company. (Let's say.) I bet 3 guys (subcontractors) show up with a pickup truck, tear off your drywall, little to no precautions are taken, and they drive off with it in the bed of their truck. (Seen it happen).

Not going to tell you what to do, but it's your house... and you aren't a contractor that has to hold the liability bag at the end of the day... you are a private citizen working on your own home. The question then becomes how great is the risk and am I willing to assume the liability. Personally I know what I would do, but that's me.

Let's face it, if your house ever catches on fire, everyone will be at greater risk from the toxic fumes in all the plastics and other man made products than they ever would be from a little joint compound. Funny they don't regulate that.

Take all the precautions you need to. Stay healthy my friend.
Old 06-02-16, 04:14 AM
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The biggest health dangers from asbestos is to those that work around it for extended periods [think years not days] Minimizing and containing the debris is the main thing. Inhaling the dust is the only real danger.
Old 06-02-16, 07:09 AM
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In this situation, I think the biggest pitfall is the potential buyer down the road who asks how the asbestos was handled.
Old 06-02-16, 08:35 AM
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Stickshift it the exact thing I was thinking. Buyer down the road.
Old 06-02-16, 09:06 AM
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Am I missing something here? Does a positive on an asbestos test become public record some way or is this more along the lines of your ethical obligation to report this on "known issues" (whatever the actual name) form when listing a home for sale?
Old 06-02-16, 09:12 AM
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Yes, you are now obligated to disclose that you know there is or was asbestos in the house.
Old 06-03-16, 11:43 AM
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First You will need to put the space into a negative pressure using a trap. you will also need to block off all HVAC vents and use plastic barriers in door ways. Once complete spend the 475 bucks are so to have clearance test done in the space. that will prove are disprove if you removed it all.
Old 06-03-16, 03:26 PM
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Am I missing something here? Does a positive on an asbestos test become public record
Not sure if it becomes public record that your house contains asbestos, probably not.

I am certified in Lead Renovation/Lead Safe Practices approved by the EPA.
Being so, I must assume that the house contains lead if built prior to 1978. So it doesn't matter if it's public record or not, the lead must be addressed while remodeling.

I would imagine it's the same for asbestos, you would assume asbestos until tested. Home tests are not a qualified test.
Old 06-03-16, 04:52 PM
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As has been stated, the problem is when you want to sell your home.

More and more real estate sales are moving towards, and buyer's are demanding, full disclosure of any and all "deficiencies" in a home. While it is still possible, at least in most areas, to sell "as is" that little clause is going to be a deal breaker more and more as time marches on.

In my area we have the "form 17" where the seller, under penalty of perjury, discloses all known deficiencies in the property. If a buyer subsequently finds out the seller falsified the form 17 the seller can become liable for not only the full amount of the original sales contract but also additional damages (monetary fines) as the court sees fit.

The last time I was involved with a RE sales contract there were only three possible answers to the questions asked on the form 17; yes, no and I don't know. When I sold my mother's house after her death the RE agent tried to get me to answer the questions mostly with I don't know but since I DID know my conscious would not allow me to do that. The agent's reasoning (excuse) was that since I didn't actually live in the house the last twenty-some years I could not be expected (in a trial situation) to know. When I sold my previous house (some sixteen years ago) I truthfully and faithfully filled out a couple of pages of detailed answers to the form 17. The buyer's agent remarked to my agent that he had never seen such a complete form 17 and wished that all sellers were as truthful.

So it comes down, at least at this time, to how much you are willing to lie, both to the buyer and to your self. It WILL get worse in the future.

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