Asbestos in plaster walls????

kdsmMay 13, 2005

I'm remodeling a house built in 1945 (currently empty) and was told erroneously by one contractor who looked at the job that the popcorn ceilings did not contain asbestos. Turns out he didn't test, but looked at a piece and "his experience" told him it didn't have asbestos (this is a long distance remodel and I wasn't with him when he did a walk-through to see it). Meanwhile we went about tearing down the basement ceiling totally unaware of the danger we were in. When I hired another young man who just got his contractor's license to help with the demolition he took samples and got them tested and they came back showing asbestos not only in the popcorn, but also in the plaster walls! Does anyone know anything about asbestos in plaster walls? The information on the web that I have found so far only mentions that plaster "can" contain asbestos. The remodeling plan calls for moving some walls, so this is a big deal. Also, because of "full disclosure" wouldn't it be a problem for re-sale...if all of the walls contain asbestos wouldn't even putting up a picture release fibers??? Have I fallen down the rabbit hole here?????

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Go to the site below for the most accurate info, laws, etc concerning asbestos.

Here is a link that might be useful: Asbestos EPA Site

    Bookmark   May 13, 2005 at 1:50PM
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My understanding is that the old plaster can very well contain asbestos, and also lead as well. A friend of mine, her daughter got severe lead poisoning from a crumbling plaster ceiling in a rental apartment they lived in.

Bottom line, is you need to be careful around anything that old when it's being demolished.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2005 at 2:53PM
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Don't panic. Yes, I have read that plaster can contain asbestos (not really old stuff, but plaster from the 20th century). Also lead - though mostly from paint.

Both of these (lead and asbestos) are not like dangerous chemicals or radiation, though; they are not dangerous if left intact, only as they degrade or become damaged.

I would seek expert advice, from a several sources. Pay particular attention to governmental sources who have nothing to gain from any remediation work. Be aware that these issues are right up there with the (in)famous toxic mold in attracting people who will "solve" your problem, starting with completely cleaning your wallet.

Any demolition work will have to be carried out carefully to keep the site clean and safe for you, especially if you are living in the structure at the time.

As for disclosure on re-sale, well that's more complicated. Perhaps it will complicate things, perhaps not. I doubt that the asbestos content of plaster is so significant that hanging a picture would release it, though I don't know that for a fact. Logically, though, if it were that big a problem, there would be more publicity.

Since it's always better to have an upside plan when faced with bad news, I offer this: Even if your plaster is significantly contaminated with asbestos, all that would be required to remediate and permanently end the problem would be complete removal and cleaning. This much better than, say radon, which must be dealt with forever. And it's 'way easier to correct than deteriorated lead paint, which can be a bear.

Does your contractor have a plan?


    Bookmark   May 13, 2005 at 5:03PM
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Plaster walls can be dented by a finger nail or a screwdriver tip quite easily - asbestos sheeting will feel very hard. So in a plaster wall the painted surface will push in easily.Asbestos In Plaster Walls On an asbestos wall you will be able to put a scratch on the paint surface but pushing in will be very difficult.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2012 at 3:34PM
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