An updated evaluation of potential health hazards associated with exposures to asbestos-containing drywall accessory products.

Critical Reviews in Toxicology 2019 August 5 [Link]

Jacobs NFB, Towle KM, Finley BL, Gaffney SH


Following a previously published (2012) evaluation of the potential health hazards related to the use of asbestos-containing drywall accessory products, additional information regarding asbestos exposures during the use of accessory products, as well as studies of chrysotile asbestos risk as a function of exposure, have been published in the peer-reviewed literature. The purpose of this analysis is to update the original evaluation with this new information. It was previously estimated that a professional drywaller performing joint compound-associated tasks could have a lifetime cumulative chrysotile exposure of 12-26 f/cc-year. Using conservative assumptions regarding airborne asbestos levels during different drywalling tasks, task duration, and job tenure, we found that a range of 4.3-36.3 f/cc-year is a plausible estimate of a career drywaller’s cumulative asbestos exposure from historical joint compound use. The estimated range for bystander exposures would be below (sometimes significantly below) this range depending on the frequency and duration of work near drywallers. Further, the estimated drywaller and bystander total fiber exposures were well below a recently published “no-observed adverse effect level, best estimate” for predominately chrysotile exposures of 89-168 f/cc-year for lung cancer and 208-415 f/cc-year for mesothelioma. We also determined that, even if the chrysotile or possibly talc ingredients in the drywall products had contained asbestiform tremolite, the cumulative tremolite exposures would have been well below a recently published tremolite no-effect level of 0.5-2.6 f/cc-year. Based on our calculations, typical drywall work using asbestos-containing drywall accessory products is not expected to increase the risk of asbestos-related lung cancer or mesothelioma. These conclusions are consistent with the lack of epidemiological evidence that drywall work resulted in an increased incidence of asbestos-related disease in the drywall trades.