Asbestos Abatement >> Asbestos Abatement Supplies

Joint compound used on wallboard systems often contains asbestos added during the mixing process to improve the working texture of the material. The asbestos in the joint compound is typically much less than 5 percent by weight and the joint compound makes up a minor fraction of the material in the wallboard system. Where Asbestos Abatement Supplies work with the wallboard system does not involve sanding, grinding or abrading the wall surface, joint compound will generally remain intact on the surface of the wallboard. The presence of joint compound has not been found to represent a greater hazard of asbestos exposure than treating the wallboard system as a homogenous material. It is important to implement prompt clean-up procedures and avoid pulverizing debris generated during the work.

Because of the circumstances presented by the use of asbestos in such joint compounds, questions arise relating to the application of the requirements of the asbestos standards adopted by the Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) under the authority of the Washington Industrial Safety and Health Act (WISHA), RCW 49.17 and the Washington Asbestos Act, RCW 49.26. II. Scope and Application This WISHA Regional Directive (WRD) provides guidance to WISHA enforcement and consultation staff whenever they must address Asbestos Abatement Supplies issues concerning employee exposure to hazards involving asbestos-containing joint compound in wallboard systems.

This document does not address materials sprayed or applied with a trowel across the full surface of the wall (such surfacing materials are covered under the Class I work provisions of the asbestos standard, found in WAC 296-62-07712). This WRD supersedes all previous guidance on this subject, both formal and informal. Sampling for joint compound. Owners and employers can generally rely upon full-depth Asbestos Abatement Supplies samples of wallboard systems containing joint compound collected during building inspections. For general demolition and other work dealing with the wallboard system as a whole, building surveys using samples representing the full depth of wallboard material meet the good faith survey requirements.

Where sample results identify trace or less than one percent asbestos for the wallboard system, some basic requirements of the asbestos standard will apply but the work will not be considered an "asbestos abatement project" under the definitions of the standard. However, full-depth samples are not sufficient for wallboard systems where surfacing materials are present or where work will specifically disturb joint compound. Building inspectors must examine wall systems in sufficient detail to identify extensive patching or Asbestos Abatement Supplies application of surfacing layers on walls (as per the EPA AHERA inspection protocols for identification of surfacing materials in 40 CFR 763 Part E). These applications are considered to be "surfacing materials" under the standard, although similar plaster products may be used for joint compound.

Surfacing materials have been associated with extensive asbestos exposure and have more stringent handling requirements than most other materials (see the OSHA preamble to the 1994 rulemaking for additional discussion). Where work practices will selectively disturb joint compound, a full depth sample may not represent the Asbestos Abatement Supplies workplace hazard. For example, sanding or scraping a wall may specifically disturb the joint compound and create dust and debris composed primarily of joint compound. Building inspectors must assess the work to be conducted and sample the materials representative of the hazard presented by the work. This may be accomplished using individual samples of different layers or having layers within samples analyzed separately.

WISHA enforcement staff may elect to collect samples of dust or debris from the workplace or sample specific materials to make an assessment of the hazard represented by these materials. The specific work activity associated with the sample must be documented. A full-depth Asbestos Abatement Supplies sample result may substitute for layered results in situations where full-depth sampling is determined appropriate by an accredited building inspector. However, where sampling of joint compound has detected asbestos, the overall wallboard materials must not be reported as asbestos free. Previous sampling may have been conducted for significantly different projects and specifically focused on joint compound (for example, samples assessing a prior painting project where sanding of the wall surface was planned).

It is also common practice for laboratories to report layer by layer results for quality control reasons, whether or not this analysis is requested. In either case, it is improper to ignore the known presence of asbestos, but additional information may be collected and used to characterize the overall hazard due to asbestos in the current work. An accredited building inspector must conduct any reassessment of wallboard systems. The Asbestos Abatement Supplies reassessment must be conducted based on objective information collected during inspection of the wallboard system by an inspector or laboratory analysis of samples collected in accordance with EPA protocols. Pertinent objective information includes field documentation of the layers present in the samples and the relative quantities of materials represented by the samples.

The level of proof should be equivalent to that for rebuttal of PACM designation and EPA inspection and analysis protocols must be followed. If resampling is conducted with full depth analysis and no asbestos is detected, the wallboard system must still be reported as containing trace or less than one percent asbestos based on the initial sampling.

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