Asbestos Health Risks a Genuine Concern for Painters

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Painters Asbestos Exposure During RenovationWe’ve all done some painting in our lifetimes. Maybe it was that first apartment of yours – the one with the lime green walls. Or perhaps you’ve tackled larger projects, like the exterior of your home. Some DIYers love to paint, others hate it. Still, there are many individuals that make their living as painters, coming to the rescue of those of us who simply dislike the task.

Since the post-war housing boom of the 1950s, U.S. painters have been kept quite busy when it comes to residential jobs. Some painters also specialize in commercial applications, employed by businesses small and large to paint everything from walls to water towers.

In many ways, painting can be quite a dangerous job, involving working at great heights, working in poorly insulated areas, and – not least of all – working around asbestos-containing materials.

Where’s the Asbestos?

Those not involved in the painting industry but be surprised to learn that many paints once contained asbestos. In addition, a wealth of compounds, protective coatings, and other items regularly used by painters also once contained asbestos. As a matter of fact, these items – manufactured as early as the 1930s up until the mid-1970s – often contained quite sizeable amounts of the toxic mineral.

Some of the companies that manufactured these asbestos-containing supplies included:
• National Gypsum
• Eagle-Picher
• GAF
• Celotex
• United States Gypsum

Other items used by painters or encountered by painters while on-the-job also included tape (such as Raymark’s “Allbestos” tape) and wallboard products such as those made by Johns-Manville or National Gypsum.

For painters who regularly worked on exteriors of homes or other buildings, exposure to shingles, siding, and roofing meant the likelihood of inhaling asbestos. Even today, one can identify thousands upon thousands of U.S. homes that still feature asbestos siding or shingles, making the job of removing them quite dangerous. These asbestos products may have been manufactured by the companies noted above as well as:
• Carey
• Ruberoid
• Keasbey & Mattison
• And many others!

Avoiding Asbestos

Painters have always been responsible for more than just putting a coat of color on a wall or other surface. These tradesmen must do a plethora of preparation when charged with a particular painting job. That means doing things like scraping, patching, filling, caulking, sanding, and anything else necessary to produce a suitable finished product. It is often during these tasks that painters were (or will be) exposed to dangerous asbestos dust. Whenever asbestos-containing materials are compromised, inhalation becomes a very real problem.

That means painters should ALWAYS wear protective gear when working in an environment that may include asbestos-containing products. This also means that painters should carefully assess each project before beginning, especially if the job involves working in an older home or commercial location where asbestos products are likely to still be present. Furthermore, the painter who’s working with asbestos materials should ALWAYS change clothes and (if possible) shower before heading home. It isn’t unusual for asbestos dust to gather on clothes and on the body, meaning unnecessary secondary exposure could occur with poor habits.

Mesothelioma and Painters

Many painters of decades past have learned of the dangers of asbestos exposure years and years after practicing their trade. Some have already been diagnosed with mesothelioma or other related diseases, such as asbestosis. If you believe that you or a loved one was exposed to dangerous asbestos while on-the-job and you or your family member is suffering from an asbestos-related disease, contact an attorney today to learn of your legal rights for compensation.