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How To Tell If Plaster Has Asbestos
I live in an apartment in Melbourne, Australia in the 1970s. It has since been completely renovated (I’d say 15-20 years ago), but I don’t know if all the asbestos products have been removed – we still have the old asbestos fire doors, for example. I found the patch peeling around one of the bright spots, and the hairy threads on it scared me. What do you think it is likely to be asbestos?
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As mentioned in the review, the only way to be completely sure is testing. This site has some good information (although it’s focused on the US):
Asbestos is usually only added to fireproof walls, such as elevator shaft walls and walls in commercial buildings. Most homes do not have asbestos plaster inside. To ensure everyone’s safety, if you know the wall was exposed to fire and was built before 1990, it is assumed to contain asbestos and plaster samples are tested immediately.
But note that it starts with “normal”. If the homeowner has a construction history, the site also has a list of asbestos-containing products.
Asbestos plaster is very dangerous when damaged. Degraded asbestos plaster is known as “burnable asbestos,” meaning the material can easily disintegrate and disintegrate, releasing asbestos fibers into the atmosphere.
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I have seen many houses in Melbourne. It looks like a cheap fiber product (don’t know the official name). If so, it will be 3-5mm thick and will heat up when wet. All I saw in those days were asbestos bricks, pipes and cement tiles. If asbestos cement tile has white/gray fibers, it will be heavier, grayer, and harder. Visible fibers are brown – if a small flame is applied to the exposed fibers, the asbestos will not burn and their identity will be revealed. Don’t burn the house down…
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This article explains where and when asbestos is found in plaster used for walls and ceilings.
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We’ve also provided an ARTICLE INDEX for this topic, or you can try the search box at the top or bottom of the page to find the information you’re looking for.
Modern plaster products and modern drywall and tape compounds do not contain asbestos. As we detail here, however, this is not always the case.
Asbestos in plaster and plaster sometimes contains chrysotile asbestos in two forms: intentionally added to fire-resistant plaster, special plastic products, such as trim or decorative moldings, and sometimes an unknown contaminant.
Some plastic products may contain chrysotile to trimolyte (a popular form of asbestos) as incidental contaminants, which may also contain vermiculite, which, as manufactured, also contains asbestos (Libby).
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Plaster is added to various wallboard products and drywall to improve its waterproofing or fireproofing properties, meaning that additional drywall products manufactured between 1920 and 1978 may contain crystalline and tetralith asbestos.
Asbestos is also used directly as an asbestos additive in acoustical plasters and as a lightweight plaster with the addition of vermiculite or “zonolite” used as a suspension injection contaminant in liquid plasters.
Asbestos is used to improve moisture resistance in giant board or “dryer” products (such as bathroom tile) and in plastic additives to meet fire protection requirements such as ASTM C630/C630M-03e1 Waterproof Giant Backing Board. (ASTM C1396/C1396M)
Thanks to reader TD for providing this photo and lab results of an asbestos test that confirmed the presence of asbestos in this plaster sample.
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Our best information is at the top of this page. Take a look and let me know what questions you have.
@-911, I’m mainly asking about the gray plaster and asbestos you put up
If your building product was manufactured in the United States before 1986, it may contain asbestos.
Either opinion or manual information does not allow useful estimation of the level of risk you are exposed to.
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We were unable to provide a clear or informative answer to a few words of your message. You can try posting a picture for more information.
Ceramic floor and wall tiles manufactured in North America are unlikely to contain asbestos. However, you can find asbestos in some tile grout and tile mastic. Read on for details
Today I put on a paint mask from 1953 to remove the tub and tile. I would like to know if there is asbestos in it, is there a way to tell? It was tiled with gray-brown plaster.
Grinding means grinding the substance between the fingers and thumb into a very fine powder.
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Also, as I’ve said repeatedly, the total amount of material now exposed through 1-inch grout or cracks and patches is negligible.
@-911, I was worried that I would wear my clothes for three years by scratching the exposed part of my hangers. I don’t know how exposed the asbestos plaster is and how big the risk is. So far I haven’t thought twice about the opportunity.
I guess I’m looking for a theoretical answer? Really appreciate your help. This is a very informative site!
It’s impossible to assess the dangers of asbestos in writing, but I didn’t read anything in your article to throw me off.
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@(ed), am I worried about my clothes being contaminated if it has asbestos in it? I just threw on a pair of white shirts. I thought it might be asbestos in the near future. Is the risk high?
Very small damaged area – can be easily repaired by removing the paint and using joint compound or plaster patch compound.
What kind of wall material is this? It’s part of my closet. A year house built in 1900, renovated in 1950, Maine. My clothes have been massaging it for years. The exposed part looks like broken concrete. Hopefully it’s not asbestos.
My longtime friend Jeff May (Cambridge MA) tested HEPA-class vacuum cleaners to see how well they did at removing fine particles.
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Jeff found what we both found: many HEPA-rated vacuum cleaners of various designs leaked so much that they were running airborne particles.
At that time, Jeff discovered that the most expensive Miele vacuums were leaking a bit, and could not vacuum at an industrial or shop-vacuum level.
So since there are no independent, reliable test lab reports on the effectiveness and leakage of HEPA vacuums, I’m looking for a non-exposed model.
I suspect that regular shop vacuums (I don’t know) are remanufactured with HEPA filters on vacuum cleaners.
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A web search for “HEPA rated vacuum cleaner reviews” will lead to articles on “best HEPA vacuums”.
Be careful: I read these reviews carefully to know what the reviewers have to say, what tests have been done and what knowledge they have.
1.1 This standard describes industry-accepted test methods and methods for evaluating residential and commercial vacuum cleaner filtration systems for HEPA filter performance.
1.2 This standard specifies the minimum filter efficiency requirements for residential and commercial vacuum cleaners to achieve HEPA performance.
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1.3 This standard applies only to residential and commercial vacuum cleaning products used in non-critical applications. Non-critical applications refer to applications that do not require the removal of hazardous dusts as defined by IEC 60335-2-69.
1.4 This standard does not address all security issues related to its use. It is the responsibility of the user of this standard to establish appropriate safety, health, and environmental practices and determine the applicability of regulatory restrictions prior to use.
I’ve seen them recommend HEPA vacuuming when vacuuming instead of using a regular shop vacuum. Is the HEPA vacuum a special model or can I use my regular shop with a HEPA filter installed?
Hello, I bought a house built in 1963 in a residential area. We have some water
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