Painters and Mesothelioma Exposure
Painters could be exposed to asbestos in multiple ways to this naturally occurring mineral fiber which causes asbestosis (severe breathing restrictions), lung cancer, and different types of mesothelioma (a deadly cancer). If you or a loved one were a painter and suffered an asbestos-related disease, Satterley & Kelley might be able to help you obtain compensation for all you’ve endured.
What Do Painters Do?
Painters work in every kind of space, indoors and out. They may work in your bathroom, office, or the factory outside of town. A key part of their job is preparing the surface for the paint. That can involve sanding or grinding away old paint, walls, or metal surfaces. Paint can be rolled, brushed, or sprayed on. Often these work spaces are poorly ventilated.
How Would Painters Be Exposed to Asbestos?
Asbestos fibers are strong, heat and fire-resistant. Before it was heavily regulated in the late 1970s, asbestos was readily available and cheap. It was part of thousands of products in homes, factories, chemical plants, vehicles, and aircraft.
Asbestos fibers were in paints because of their fire-resistant properties, they added texture and helped the paint last longer. Paints could be up to 20% asbestos by weight. Surfaces painters sanded could have paint, sheetrock, tapes, and joint compounds containing asbestos.
Asbestos is dangerous when airborne, inhaled, and swallowed. There would be exposure if painters used a dry, asbestos-containing mix to make joint compounds. When fibers are in wet paint or compound, it doesn’t pose a threat. But after they dry and are sanded, fibers are liberated and sent into the air.
Many other construction trades used a variety of asbestos-containing products. If painters were in the area when they were installed or removed, they could inhale those fibers.
What are the Dangers of Asbestos?
Three properties make asbestos dangerous.
- Fibers are Microscopic
You can’t see asbestos fibers with the naked eye unless there are so many they become visible in clumps or clouds. They are incredibly light, so they practically float in the air, so it’s very easy to inhale or swallow them without realizing it.
- They Stay in the Body
If you ingest something harmful in your body, the injury may be limited if your body can flush it out or your immune system can break it down and destroy it. That won’t happen with asbestos fibers.
The body’s immune response is to send cells to break the fibers down and destroy them. Asbestos fibers instead destroy the cells meant to get them out of the body. Fibers become stuck in tissues and organs where they can remain for the rest of your life.
- Asbestos Fibers are Toxic
Immune cells encountering asbestos fibers die, spill enzymes into nearby tissue, injury it, and cause inflammation. If they’re in the lungs, they cause asbestosis, which can severely restrict the person’s ability to breathe.
Over years or decades, these fibers and the body’s response cause cellular mutations. Eventually, cells become malignant and cause lung cancer and mesothelioma (an aggressive and fatal cancer of membranes covering different organs and parts of the body).
How Dangerous is Mesothelioma?
Pleural mesothelioma (which affects the lungs’ lining and the chest cavity) is the most common type. It’s generally treatable but not curable. Treatment may improve your symptoms and quality of life and extend it, but it’s no cure. The American Cancer Society estimates that, depending on how far the disease progressed by the time of diagnosis, from 8% to 20% of those with pleural mesothelioma are alive five years after diagnosis.
Peritoneal mesothelioma, which impacts the membrane lining the abdominal cavity and organs, is more treatable. One study estimates almost half of those with this cancer lived seven or more years after diagnosis. Pericardial mesothelioma, which involves the heart’s lining, is the deadliest. A study of patients with the condition estimates that, on average, they lived two months after diagnosis.
Call Us Today for A Free Consultation
If you or a loved one developed mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease while working as a painter, Satterley & Kelley attorneys can answer your questions, talk to you about how to obtain compensation, and discuss your next step. Call our Louisville office at 502-589-5600 or toll-free at 855-385-9532. You can also fill out our contact form to schedule a free initial consultation.