Mesothelioma in Cabinet Makers

Quick Summary

Cabinet makers are at moderate risk of asbestos exposure that causes mesothelioma and other health conditions. Craftsmen who worked with asbestos-containing supplies in dusty workshops or in workplaces with asbestos problems may have inhaled the harmful fibers.

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Mesothelioma and Cabinet Makers Explained

Cabinet makers encountered asbestos in various ways during the 20th century. Building materials like particleboard, wood glue, and veneer contained asbestos. Craftsmen faced exposure when they unknowingly inhaled or ingested the harmful asbestos fibers while working with little ventilation.

Asbestos exposure was also a threat on job sites. Some cabinet makers built their products at construction sites, factories, military bases, and other workplaces where asbestos exposure was likely.

History of Asbestos Exposure in Cabinet Makers

Cabinet makers have been working their craft for thousands of years. However, it was not until the 1900s that building materials, tools, and worksites started containing asbestos.

A wide range of cabinet-making supplies contained asbestos from the 1930s to 1980s. Fire-resistant, lightweight, and durable, asbestos was suitable for use in a variety of products used in construction and cabinet making.

For decades, cabinet makers were exposed to asbestos and risked developing mesothelioma and other asbestos-related conditions.

Cabinet makers may have been exposed to asbestos while using these products:

  • Corkboard
  • Flexboard
  • Paint, stains, and finishes
  • Paper lining/backing
  • Particleboard
  • Veneer
  • Wood fiber plaster
  • Wood glue and adhesives

Metal cabinets like safes, lockers, filing cabinets, and storage bins also used asbestos-containing adhesives and paper lining.

Did you know?

Remington Rand produced cabinets and safes that contained asbestos strips in the drawer heads and have since been removed from offices.

Cabinet makers worked in various capacities. Some craftsmen worked for furniture manufacturers building cabinets in a workshop.

Others operated on-site at industrial, residential, and commercial worksites, where they created and installed their cabinets. These cabinet makers were at risk of asbestos exposure from the materials they used and asbestos-containing construction materials such as drywall, floor tiles, insulation, and cement.

If you or a loved one is a veteran and want to find out what benefits you qualify for, our Free Veterans Packet can help. If you were exposed to asbestos during your service, you may be entitled to the VA's world-class medical care and other financial assistance.

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Cabinet Making After World War II

After World War II, some veterans took up cabinetry upon returning home. Many started their own businesses making and installing cabinets at various sites around the community. Working in small confines with little ventilation put these cabinet makers at risk of inhaling asbestos fibers from the many asbestos-containing products they used.

Highest Risk Worksites for Asbestos Exposure in Cabinet Makers

Cabinet makers performed their craft on a variety of worksites across the country. Although many cabinet makers crafted household furniture, others produced cabinets for businesses, military bases, and public service buildings.

Some high-risk worksites for cabinet makers include:

  • Industrial sites: Farms, plants, mills, power stations, factories, mines
  • Businesses: Restaurants, hotels, shops, kiosks
  • Residential buildings: New homes, renovation sites, high-rises
  • Military structures: Bases, naval ships, dockyards, barracks, storage units
  • Service centers: First responder stations, schools, libraries, hospitals, government buildings, sports fields, and arenas
  • Transportation: Ferries, pleasure vessels, trains, depots, airports

Asbestos exposure in cabinet makers continues to be a risk today.

When building or installing cabinets at a home or business undergoing renovation, workers may inhale asbestos fibers that become airborne when disturbed. Old structures contain asbestos in the walls, floor, roof, pipes, and elsewhere around the property.

Restoration Woodworking and Asbestos Exposure

Restoration woodworkers who specialize in repairing antique cabinets risk exposure when working on old furniture that contains asbestos. Similarly, workers who repurpose old cabinets are at risk of inhaling asbestos fibers when tearing apart fixtures.

Improved asbestos regulations and safety precautions decrease the risk of exposure to cabinet makers today. Worksites are often equipped with ventilation and vacuum systems that better remove dust from the air. Most cabinet makers now wear masks and protective clothing to safeguard against inhaling harmful particles.

Cabinet Makers and Asbestos Lawsuits

If you have developed an asbestos-related disease from working as a cabinet maker, you may qualify for compensation. Billions of dollars are available through trust funds set up by manufacturers of asbestos-containing materials.

For example, Armstrong World Industries, which produced building supplies and employed cabinet makers, established a $2 million trust in 2006.

Additionally, mesothelioma victims may be able to file suit against the companies responsible for their exposure to asbestos.

If you are a veteran with mesothelioma, you may have other options. Affected veterans may be eligible for financial compensation through the VA. The VA usually classifies veterans with mesothelioma as 100% disabled. This classification entitles married veterans to $3,823.89 per month as of 2023. We can help you file your claim today.

FAQs About Mesothelioma and Cabinet Makers

How much exposure do you need to asbestos to get mesothelioma?

There is no safe level of exposure to asbestos.

However, the risk of developing mesothelioma or other asbestos-related illnesses is higher in people exposed to asbestos more or for longer periods. However, a single asbestos fiber can be inhaled and begin the process that leads to the development of mesothelioma.

What can be mistaken for mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma can be mistaken for pneumonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or even a bad cold or the flu. Because it can take 10-50 years for asbestos exposure to lead to mesothelioma, it is often not the first thing doctors or patients suspect.

The symptoms of mesothelioma include shortness of breath, coughing, and chest pain. All of these symptoms have other, more common explanations.

If you know or suspect you were exposed to asbestos, t's a good idea to talk to your doctor and test for mesothelioma. The earlier this deadly disease is diagnosed, the better your prognosis.

What is the average age of onset of mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma can appear decades after exposure to asbestos. That often means that patients aren't diagnosed until they are older. The average age for a pleural mesothelioma diagnosis is 72.

Veterans Support Team
Christopher Dryfoos PhotoWritten by:

Contributing Author

Christopher Dryfoos is a journalist and member of the American Medical Writers Association (AMWA). As the grandson of the U.S. Navy’s first forensic pathologist, he aims to help veterans with mesothelioma access needed care.

  1. American Cancer Society, "Key Statistics About Malignant Mesothelioma." Retrieved April 6, 2023, from
  2. Armstrong World Industries Asbestos Personal Injury Settlement Trust, “Overview.” Retrieved April 6, 2023, from