The purpose of spackle plaster is to fill in holes in plaster walls, but it was also used as a decorative plaster to apply a texture to walls and ceilings. Spackle plaster was often called patching plaster, repair plaster, drywall repair, and putty and spackling caulk.
Until the 1970s, spackle often contained asbestos for its fire retardant ability, insulation, strength, and texture. Before 1980 asbestos was a component in thousands of products used in construction so a structure built during these years likely has asbestos, possibly in the walls, ceilings, floors, roofing, and pipes. It was even blown between walls and into attics as insulation. Because of this, many home renovation and repair projects on these older homes that create the risk of stirring up asbestos dust.
While intact spackle plaster is unlikely to pose a health risk, the formation of this asbestos dust is very dangerous. It allows the tiny, needle-like asbestos fibers to be easily inhaled, where they lodge in the lungs. Construction and home repair workers are at risk of developing mesothelioma, a rare type of cancer linked to asbestos exposure. Those who do their own home remodeling are also at risk.