Beware of Hazardous Materials Lurking in Drywall

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Beware of Hazardous Materials Lurking in DrywallInstalling and repairing drywall in a home or commercial property is an important part of renovation and construction. However, the dangers of working with drywall and its health exposures have come under scrutiny over the years, and rightfully so. Drywall contains toxic substances that can lead to further damage to a resident’s or worker’s overall health over time, causing damage that may be irreversible.

The EPA announced this summer that it would be implementing a new rule requiring manufacturers and importers to notify and get approval from the agency before manufacturing, processing or shipping asbestos for new uses. The hope is that it will curb health hazards for those who work with it or live around drywall. Let’s see why drywall can be so dangerous.

Drywall Dust Endangers Workers

When workers install or replace a piece of drywall, they use joint compound to fill the spaces in between. When the compound becomes dry, they sand it down to create a smooth wall to be painted over. During this process, tiny particles of drywall and dust fill the air, available to be breathed in.

This is where health hazards take over. The dust floating in the air and being ingested contains many hazardous particles such as talc, mica, gypsum and calcite, among others, and all work together to cause future respiratory problems. Drywall installers, tapers and even workers in the vicinity who don’t work with drywall are all exposed to the dust, causing things like eye irritation, skin irritation, coughing, lung cancer and long-term lung disease.


Up until 1978, a lot of components of homebuilding included asbestos. From joint compounds to wall texture to plaster, asbestos was the norm in homebuilding and office buildings. However, asbestos was discovered to be harmful and banned from drywall usage. But it still poses a health issue as anyone who works on old homes with renovations is still exposed to the harm of asbestos.

It generally takes about 10-50 years before symptoms from asbestos start kicking in, causing a delayed threat to professionals such as painters, plasterers and drywallers.

Liability Insurance

Those who work in home renovation or homebuilding do have options to protect themselves legally against the harms of drywall. For contractors who work in construction, an effective independent contractors liability insurance plan is the first step in keeping safe.

While asbestos is one thing not covered within general liability insurance, adding contractor pollution liability can be pursued when dealing with more serious risks and matters. While workers onsite face the most exposure to these health risks, anyone who comes in contact with them, such as guests or residents, can hold you liable. Speak with your local insurance provider to see what options are best to preemptively keep you safe on your current or future job sites.

About Shields Insurance Agency

Shields Insurance Agency is an independent insurance agency located in Birmingham, Alabama that provides insurance coverage to local businesses and families throughout the southeastern United States. As an independent agency, we will shop your coverage with numerous top-rated insurers, virtually guaranteeing you get the most competitive rates available with broad coverage terms. For more information on our products and services, contact us today at (205) – 783-5893 to speak with one of our professionals.

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