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Dangers associated with modern-day paints, such as solvent-based and oil-based paints, often include minor health risks like inhaling the fumes into the lungs, which can cause temporary headaches, dizziness and nausea, according to the Poison Control Center. Professional painters often wear masks and make sure the room is ventilated while working to lower their exposure to harmful fumes in the paint.
It wasn’t long ago, however, when painters faced a greater danger than paint fumes: asbestos exposure. Asbestos was used in a variety of construction materials, joint compounds and textured paints – all of which painters worked with on a daily basis. Surface preparation with asbestos joint compound and tape posed a serious risk, and many painters faced direct asbestos exposure during repair and remodeling jobs.
Until the 1980s, asbestos was a cheap and popular component of building materials such as joint compound, which was used to level and seal off wall and ceiling joints and seams. Mixing this joint compound, which often came in dry form, released asbestos fibers into the air that could be inhaled. Dust could also be created as a painter sanded down the dried compound in order to achieve an even finish. Cleaning up and hauling away crushed bags of powder and sweeping away the waste and debris after these projects resulted in additional exposures.
Painters who worked in shipyards alongside millwrights may have been exposed to asbestos while they removed and replaced various components of pumps, including gaskets and packing. During shutdowns, turnarounds or remodels of large industrial facilities, painters could be required to work around contractors who were insulating steam lines, boilers or other pieces of equipment throughout the facilities. Cutting and installing pipe covering, mixing and applying refractory cement and working with other asbestos insulation created a dusty and dangerous work environment.
At Simmons Hanly Conroy, our ongoing focus is on mesothelioma victims and their families – the innocent lives that have been wronged by corporations who knowingly put them at risk. Our clients have worked as painters at a variety of worksites, including:
If you or a loved one is dealing with the effects of asbestos exposure related to a career as a painter, please contact us by filling out the form below.