Can Drywall Dust Make You Sick? Everything You Need To Know!

As anyone who has ever renovated a house knows, drywall dust is inevitable. For the most part, it is not harmful. However, you may want to take some precautions if you have allergies or asthma. 

Drywall dust can make you sick if exposed for a prolonged period. It starts with breathing difficulties, airway or throat irritation, phlegm production, coughing, and even asthma. In most extreme circumstances, continuous exposure may lead to cancer or silicosis.

We all had it once at least, you accidentally breathed in Drywall dust, and now you’re worried because your throat feels weird, your eyes and nose are irritated, and you’ve read a few horror stories on the internet. But rest assured, it ain’t all that bad. 

Can Drywall Dust Harm You and How 

Yes, Drywall dust can harm you if you are exposed to it for too long. The joint compounds in Drywall are known to cause respiratory issues for humans and dogs. People with previous respiratory problems may experience worse reactions and deteriorating health because of Drywall dust exposure. The same thing goes for smokers who face greater risks of respiratory complications caused by gypsum in Drywalls.

How Harmful Is Drywall Dust?

Drywall can be harmful; that is why users, especially installers, are advised to wear nose masks. Like a child chewing on Drywall, it can make them sick and cause irritation. The dust can also irritate the nose, eyes, and throat. Failure to protect yourself when handling Drywall can lead to long-term asthma symptoms. Due to the toxicity of the dust, you may begin to experience breathing problems.

Construction workers and home improvement remodelers face a higher risk of health complications because of the excessive amount of Drywall dust they are exposed to. 

Is Drywall Dust Bad For Your Lungs?

Yes, Drywall dust is bad for your lungs for many reasons. Inhaling it may lead to lung irritation or coughing fits. Prolonged exposure to Drywall dust and other waste materials may worsen pre-existing respiratory conditions too. 

Issues like coughing, breath shortness, and chest tightness are some of the issues drywall dust can trigger. Luckily, there are some things that you can do to alleviate those symptoms.

Inhale Deeply

Before drywall dust can reach your lungs, it must pass through the bronchial tubes, so inhale deeply and cough to dislodge the dust. Coughing and regular breathing will expel the dust. You can leave the environment regularly for an open-air space where you can remove your face mask to cough and inhale breath. The damage could be irreversible once the dust reaches your lungs.

Use Salt

Another way to protect your lungs is to gargle salt water to clear your throat. Using salt is an age-long practice; salt contains ions that attract particles in the throat. Gargle salt water and spit it out several times. If you feel the dust further down your throat, swallow some of the saltwater to dislodge it but cough out the rest.


To further protect yourself from drywall dust, consider using a humidifier to increase atmospheric moisture in the room. Moisture can cause airborne particles to fall, thereby increasing air quality. This tested and trusted method works well in confined spaces.

Rinse Mouth and Sinuses

Rinsing your mouth and sinus will prevent the dust from reaching your lungs. Make this a regular practice after working on a site with drywalls. Use warm water to rinse your mouth; let some of the water reach your throat, then spit out as much of it as possible. If you do this properly, you will notice the particles in the water.

Drink Herbal Tea

Herbal Tea grants soothing relief to your respiratory tract and will also keep you hydrated. Besides, the warmth will break down the dust particles in your system and cause them to dissolve.

What materials cause these negative effects?

Drywall is made of mica, talc, calcite, silica, and gypsum, which is needed so it can resist heat and fire. If you use Drywall in your home or work with Drywalls, chances are that they contain some or more of these materials. You may experience one or more respiratory tract irritation if exposed to these materials. In a worst-case scenario, and on very rare occasions, it may lead to lung cancer or silicosis.

How Long Does It Take For Drywall Dust To Settle?

Drywall dust, similar to laminate floors, takes at least 24 hours to settle in a controlled environment with walls on every side. So it’s advisable to wait at least a day for the dust to settle before sweeping and vacuuming it. Just make sure to use the right tools to vacuum it, or you might ruin it.

Cleaning your space immediately after installing the Drywall is not advisable since there will be a significant volume of dust in the air that will end up on your floor later on, which looks exactly like white film on the laminate floor. Wait until the next day before you sweep and keep the windows open.

How Do You Get Drywall Dust Out Of The Air?

If you want to get drywall dust out of the air, there are several ways to do it; follow these tips below.

Open The Windows

Immediately after installation, open the windows and switch off your heating or cooling unit. Cover the air vents with plastic sheets. You want to ensure that natural air is let in and there is an easy escape from dust hanging in the air. Covering your vents will prevent some of the dust from clogging them or staying in circulation.

Sweep The Floor

Wear a face mask and a goggle (optional). Sweep the floor with a broom to remove most of the dust particles. Note that sweeping will not eliminate all the dust as there will be some residue; however, sweeping will remove a greater percentage of it. All the dust gathered should be deposited in a garbage bag and taken outside for disposal. Don’t leave the collected waste indoors, as some may escape even if you wrap up the bag.

Use A Standing Fan

After 15 minutes, place a standing fan close to and facing the open window and sweep the room once more to gather the leftover residue. Ensure that you sweep towards the window, not in the opposite direction. Sweeping your floor this way will help eliminate airborne dust easily. As sweeping is ongoing, the fan blowing out the window will suck out internal air as well as the dust in a cross draft.

Vacuum The Floor

After the second sweeping session, wait for 15 more minutes before vacuuming your floor. This will eliminate the last speck of remaining dust. Unless caulk has been used, use your Vacuum attachments for corners and wall edges to reach those areas. Pay close attention to tile holes, floorboards, and ceiling corners.

Use A Damp Cloth

Now, use a damp cloth to wipe your floors to remove stains and dust residue. Avoid soaking the cloth with too much water so as not to flood your floor. Just enough wetness is enough to do the job.

After completing all these steps, you can turn on your fan while leaving the windows open for a few more hours to let in enough air to eliminate drywall material odor.


What Happens When You Breathe In Drywall Dust?

If you breathe in drywall dust, you will begin to notice some discomfort. Drywall dust contains chemical compounds that cause airway and throat irritation. Over time, you may begin to cough. Those with asthma-related conditions may experience asthma attacks. Excess phlegm production and nasal and eye irritation are some negative reactions caused by drywall dust.

Can Drywall Dust Cause Cancer?

Drywall dust doesn’t cause lung cancer per se, but continuous exposure can increase the risks. Dust and silica deposits from sanding Drywall are quite harmful to health. One adverse reaction to these materials is asthma. 

Furthermore, prolonged exposure to silica can increase the risk of lung cancer and silica; that is why handlers are advised to wear face and nose coverings at all times when handling drywalls.

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