Carpenters and Mesothelioma Exposure
You may think of carpenters as those who help build homes, but they work in all kinds of worksites, many of which have asbestos. Carpenters were one of many trade members on projects who, if they didn’t handle asbestos-containing products, inhaled or swallowed fibers floating through the air.
What Do Carpenters Do?
A carpenter’s duties vary depending on if they work in rough or finish carpentry, the project, and the work site. Rough carpenters typically are outdoors or on large construction projects. They cut wood and other materials using saws, drills, and other machines.
Rough carpenters can work on new construction, renovations, and demolitions. They could work on single-family homes, apartment buildings, office towers, powerhouses, or government buildings. On large projects, if they’re not working on the structure or interior, they may be building or taking down scaffolding or other structures that make others’ work possible.
Finish carpenters make trim, cabinetry, or interiors. They may start the work in a shop and then go to a site to fit and install the pieces.
What is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a group of minerals that are heat and corrosion-resistant. Asbestos was used in thousands of products over the decades, most notably high-pressure steam pipe insulation, floor tiles and adhesives, and building materials.
Heavy asbestos exposure was generally in the construction industry and in ship construction and repair (which employed carpenters). Especially dangerous were repairs or renovations. Clouds of asbestos fibers could result from workers tearing out asbestos-containing products.
How Were Carpenters Exposed to Asbestos?
Asbestos was used in thousands of products from the early 1900s through about 1980. Asbestos products could still be present in an older building and present a hazard if it’s being renovated or demolished.
Carpenters may have used, sanded, ground, and or cut through asbestos-containing products like wallboard that had an asbestos-containing joint compound. Roofing materials and vinyl floor tiles used asbestos, so cutting them could release fibers in the air.
Tapes and adhesives used in construction also had asbestos. Carpenters working around workers spraying fireproofing, installing or removing asbestos-containing insulation could inhale fibers.
What Dangers Did Carpenters Face?
Asbestos is a well-recognized health hazard. Its use became more regulated and very limited in the 1970s. But older asbestos products remain in countless buildings, chemical plants, refineries, power plants, office buildings, and homes.
Breathing in enough asbestos fibers can create scar-like lung tissue and cause progressively worse lung function (asbestosis). Asbestos is linked to:
- Lung cancer (particularly among workers who smoked)
- Pleural mesothelioma: A malignancy of the membranes lining the chest cavity and lungs
- Peritoneal mesothelioma: A cancer of the linings of organs and the abdominal cavity
- Pericardial mesothelioma: A malignancy of the heart’s lining
Anyone diagnosed with these asbestos-related cancers may be entitled to compensation for how they’ve impacted their lives.
How Harmful is Pleural Mesothelioma?
Pleural mesothelioma is treatable but not curable. Treatments may lengthen your life, improve symptoms and help you stay comfortable. Most people with the condition live from one to four years after diagnosis.
Asbestos exposure causes nearly all cases. Airborne asbestos fibers disintegrate into tiny particles. Carpenters inhale them, they settle in the lungs, causing scars and inflammation. In relatively few people and over decades, the fibers get into the pleura, causing genetic changes in the cells, and the tissue because malignant.
- Painful coughing
- Chest pain
- Lumps of tissue under the skin on the chest
- Shortness of breath
- Unexplained weight loss
Over time fluid builds up in the lungs and makes breathing difficult.
Asbestos fibers swallowed by carpenters could work their way through the digestive system and into the abdomen, causing peritoneal mesothelioma. Those with it probably won’t feel symptoms until their abdominal organs are impacted by the disease. Its symptoms include:
- Abdominal fluid build-up (ascites)
- Abdominal pain, which is usually generalized but can be localized
- A painful mass in your pelvic area
- Fevers and night sweats
- Bowel blockage
- Nausea and vomiting
- Unexpected weight loss
- Appetite loss
A 2013 article in the European Journal of Cancer discussing the outcomes of 108 peritoneal mesothelioma patients found that 43.6% survived seven or more years after treatment.
Call Us Today For A Free Consultation
If you or a loved one worked as a carpenter and has been diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease, Satterley & Kelley lawyers can answer your questions, advise you of your rights to compensation, and discuss the necessary steps to protect them. You can reach our Louisville office by calling 502-589-5600 or toll-free at 855-385-9532. You can also fill out our contact form to schedule a free initial consultation.