Although the use of asbestos is frequently associated with heat- and fire-protective applications, asbestos has also been used widely in the building trades. Asbestos was used as a reinforcing and binding agent in many plastics and cements used in the construction industry, and carpenters often encountered the material in finishing cements, patching plasters, roofing materials such as shingles and adhesives, as well as in flatboard, micarta and millboard.
Almost every product used by carpenters before the mid-seventies or early 1980s had the potential of containing asbestos, which scientists and doctors now know is the agent responsible for the rare form of cancer known as mesothelioma. Not until 1977, when the Consumer Product Safety Commission began to regulate the use of asbestos in construction products, was asbestos limited or banned in most of these applications. And even then, the ban simply prevented the manufacture of new products using asbestos, while previously manufactured stockpiles of supplies that featured the material went on to be used until the mid-eighties. Clearly, carpenters and other building tradesmen were at risk of exposure to the lethal material for many, many decades in America.
Indeed, the record of asbestos exposure and mesothelioma among carpenters is a grim one. While finish carpenters–working mainly on furniture and cabinetry–were spared asbestos exposure, rough carpenters– working on all manner of building projects for commercial and residential applications, as well as roofers and even shipbuilders–experienced asbestos exposure on a daily basis.
With 70 percent of the asbestos used today represented by the construction industry, the dangers of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related illnesses are still grave. If the hazard is not recognized and if occupational health & safety standards are not enforced, carpenters can still develop mesothelioma symptoms by being exposed to asbestos in materials fabricated before the mid-80s or even today.
The Simmons Hanly Conroy cares passionately for the victims of mesothelioma and has devoted nearly a decade of our practice towards helping these individuals find justice, and oftentimes compensation, for their suffering and family trauma. Our pro-bono work, advocacy for mesothelioma victims, as well as our support for mesothelioma research, are all ways we strive to battle mesothelioma and make the world a better, healthier place. Contact us today if you or a loved one is dealing with the effects of asbestos exposure. Help and counsel are available, and you are not alone.