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Is there asbestos in my plaster walls?

My husband, myself, and our 3 small children (age 5 and under) own an old brick home that was built at some point in the 1800's--unfortunately, we have not been able to find the date or even the decade. Based on some other information, we believe it may have been built shortly after 1825,although its architecture (gothic revival) might indicate a later date.

ANYWAY, the home was last decorated in 1971, and has TONS of wallpaper that needs to be removed. In some cases it peels right off, in others it requires a lot of scraping. The shape of the plaster underneath also varies: in some rooms it is solid and beautiful, in others it needs some fairly minor repair filling cracks or adding screws and washers to get is flush against the wall.) We are not demolishing the walls, just removing wallpaper (possibly doing some sanding) and then priming and painting.

So my question is: what is the liklihood that the plaster walls contain asbestos? Is this is a major concern? Should we bother getting it tested? How should we proceed with this project?

I appreciate your advice!!

Re: Is there asbestos in my plaster walls?


Probably not. Asbestos was not normally in common wall plaster. It was sometimes used in accoustical plasters and plasters used in decorative moldings such as crown moldings.

Asbestos is only of concern when it is airborne and possibly inhaled. The process of removing wallpaper requires lots of water to moisten the paste which holds it to the wall. Such moisture would keep asbestos from going airborne.

Also, asbestosis was usually found in those persons exposed to it over long periods of time, such as shipyard workers and workers in asbestos roof shingle plants.

The best cost effective defense against asbestos or lead is to keep in encapsulated in a good coat of paint.

Re: Is there asbestos in my plaster walls?

Not likely. Horsehair was used almost exclusively in plaster until about the 1920s when autos became the preferred mode of transportation. When the horses became obsolete plasterers went to asbestos because it was considered a miracle fiber great for binding together plaster, cement, brick, concrete block, ceiling tile, etc, etc. You can do a quick and easy test yourself by picking out some of the fibers and putting a match to them. If they burn - its horsehair.

Hank Bauer
Re: Is there asbestos in my plaster walls?

Sanding of plaster is not a good idea.
Lime particals are very small partical size is .008,in the lungs it may be as bad as asbestos.

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