Although the information is provided by OSHA regarding safety measures when working with drywall, most workers ignore it when working on a construction site. However, there are a number of good reasons to use caution sanding drywall. Besides the damage it can do to appliances and electronics, it can also settle in paints and on other finishes. These are all problems that won’t affect your health. On the other hand, the fine sand that is produced from drywall can be a real health concern that can go from eye irritation to contributing to lung cancer.
First and foremost, workers should always wear protection when sanding drywall. The fine particles include mica, gypsum, calcite and silica. These particles can produce health problems for people who already have respiratory issues or who smoke. The silica can lead to lung cancer. Therefore a mask should be worn when working with the material. If at all possible, the workers should avoid dry sanding to reduce dust. This is the direct human health concern.
What has also been discovered is that the drywall dust gets into ventilation systems and therefore, contaminates the people living or working in the structure. The responsibility of workers and contractors can go far beyond their own personal safety. Many health experts recommend vacuum sanding to reduce the dust irritation to workers and occupants of the building. Unfortunately, the health and safety education is not really present in the construction industry, and long term health problems may not be linked to the handling of drywall.