Joint Compound

Prior to the late 1970s, asbestos was used as a filler material in joint compound, also known as drywall cement or mud. Asbestos-containing joint compound was sold as either ready-mix (an application-ready product) or as dry mix (a powder mixed with water in order to form a paste for application). Asbestos was incorporated into joint compound products because it prevented the compound from cracking when it dried. Other materials were available to serve this same purpose, but asbestos was the cheaper alternative.

Joint compound is particularly dangerous in four steps of the drywall finishing process: (1) setup; (2) mixing; (3) sanding; and (4) clean up. Carpenters, plumbers, electricians and anyone else who worked in the vicinity where asbestos-containing joint compound was mixed, sanded and swept up may have inhaled asbestos dust and fibers.

The Joint Compound Finishing Process and Asbestos Exposure:

Before asbestos-containing dry mix joint compound was applied to a wall or ceiling surface, it was combined with water and thoroughly mixed until a paste-like substance formed. Pouring and stirring the dry mix joint compound caused asbestos fibers to become airborne and subsequently, inhaled by workers that performed this task. After the joint compound was applied to drywall seams and dried, the compound was sanded. Both dry mix and ready-mix asbestos-containing joint compound required sanding after each application. Typically, sanding was done by hand, and the worker was an arm’s length away or directly underneath the asbestos-laden dust. This process was repeated several times, and exposed the drywall finisher to asbestos-containing dust each time. Because the drywall had to be dust-free and clean before painting, it was typically brushed off the walls and ceilings with a rag or brush. The excess dust fell to the floor and is then swept up. Clean-up of excess dust caused the asbestos fibers to become airborne. where it remained suspended for quite some time, and anyone who worked in this vicinity inhaled asbestos dust.

If you or a loved one once worked as a drywall finisher, plasterer, carpenter, electrician, plumber, completed home renovations or lived in a home where renovation work was conducted, and you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease, please contact us for a free and confidential case evaluation.