Mesothelioma in Carpenters

Quick Summary

Carpenters are at significant risk of inhaling toxic asbestos fibers and are often in danger of developing mesothelioma or other asbestos-related cancers. As their job involves working in old buildings with wooden structures, they are frequently exposed to asbestos in wall insulation. This was a common occurrence in buildings between 1940 and 1980.

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Mesothelioma and Carpenters Explained

Carpenters are renowned for working in the construction industry. Before the dangers of asbestos were fully understood, asbestos was a popular material found in insulation and heat-protection and fireproofing materials.

As carpenters would regularly work on construction sites that used asbestos in wall tiles, roof sheets, plasterboards and around boilers, they were often exposed to asbestos fibers unknowingly.

Carpentry work that can put workers’ lives at risk include:

  • Commercial construction (schools, offices and shops)
  • Residential construction (houses and apartments)
  • Industrial construction (major warehouses, facilities and worksites)
Did you know?

Jobs as simple as hammering a nail into a wall containing asbestos could free the fibers and make them airborne.

Asbestos fibers can become embedded in the linings of the lungs, abdomen and heart, causing mesothelioma tumors to grow. Mesothelioma can take 20-50 years to develop fully. Many carpenters will not know that they have been exposed to the harmful fibers for years, if not decades.

If you’re a carpenter who has developed mesothelioma, it’s important to know that several medical procedures can relieve your mesothelioma symptoms and prolong your life.

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History of Asbestos Exposure in Carpenters

Many workers in the construction industry from the 1940s onwards will have, most likely, come into contact with asbestos. The material was used as an inexpensive insulating component in the walls of buildings. It was often used in structures built between 1940 and 1980, but even carpenters today are at risk.

Renovating older houses threatens to disturb dormant asbestos. The toxic fibers can disperse and put workers at risk. The use of power tools on wallboards or tiles can be particularly dangerous, as power saws and drills can cause a lot of dust and make the asbestos particles airborne.

Other building products that may have caused asbestos exposure in carpenters include:

  • Ceiling tiles
  • Wallboards
  • Fire doors
  • Caulking
  • Joint compounds
  • Roof sheets
  • Insulations around boilers, etc
  • Plaster
  • Laminates
  • Sprayed-on fireproofing

It wasn’t until the 1980s when the real dangers of asbestos were discovered. Carpenters taking part in renovations nowadays must first request an inspection from qualified asbestos professionals to determine whether the area is safe, or if breathing equipment is required.

Highest Risk Jobs for Asbestos Exposure in Carpenters

There are many ways that carpenters could have come into contact with asbestos during work. Even if they weren’t working on a particular section of a building that contained asbestos, their proximity to other tradesmen on site could also have a detrimental effect.

Carpenters were not usually provided with face masks or breathing devices while working on large building sites—primarily because they weren’t considered necessary at the time.

Did you know?

Asbestos fibers from elsewhere in the building could have become airborne, putting carpenters and other tradesmen in the area at significant risk of developing mesothelioma later in life.

Airborne asbestos fibers are a continued risk for carpenters today when working in older buildings. It’s recommended that an asbestos professional inspect the site before work begins to protect workers—in some states this is mandatory. There are also new health and safety regulations around breathing apparatus, face masks and overalls to protect carpenters from inhaling toxic fibers.

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  • Treatment Options
  • Mesothelioma Specialists
  • Veterans Benefits

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Carpenters and Asbestos Lawsuits

Workers who contract mesothelioma while at work can claim compensation for personal injury against their employer.

A 55-year old carpenter developed pleural mesothelioma on his right lung in 2000, and on the left in 2003. The only time he had been exposed to asbestos was during a 6-month stint in 1971, working with asbestos-containing roof sheets. As mesothelioma can take decades to diagnose, this is most likely the reason for his illness. In this case, the patient would be eligible for industrial injury compensation.

Mesothelioma law is different in each state, but patients usually have between 1 and 3 years from diagnosis to file for personal injury. Family members also usually have between 1 and 3 years to file a lawsuit for wrongful death, if a patient sadly dies before the court case has concluded. Compensation can help to support the family and pay for medical costs.

It is essential that patients with mesothelioma contact a lawyer with experience in this complex legal field to get the quickest results and maximum compensation.

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.

View Sources

Ugeskr Laeger, "Second asbestos suit filed on deceased carpenter's behalf, names 68 defendants". Retrieved from: Accessed March 23, 2018.

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