Sheetrock is one of the most commonly used materials for construction. Before 1980, a good portion of the sheetrock that was put into homes and commercial buildings contained asbestos because of its fire retardant abilities. There still may be millions of homes in this country where the sheetrock in the walls contain asbestos. Damage to those walls can cause asbestos to send dust and fibers airborne.
Once inhaled, these fibers can cause a number of serious health problems that includes an incurable form of cancer called mesothelioma. Most diagnoses of mesothelioma are found in the people who worked daily and for years with products containing asbestos like manufacturing or installing sheetrock. Other activities that can expose people to asbestos dust include any type of remodeling, demolition, or renovation work done on a home built between 1900 and 1980.
Knocking down sheetrock walls can send asbestos dust into the air, as can damage done to the many other products that contained asbestos and were used in home building during that period. Today, contractors who do renovations or remodeling work must be certified and comply with certain guidelines that regulate the safe handling of materials like sheetrock that contain asbestos.