Occupation Exposure

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One of the foundational professions that you will find in the construction industry, carpenters have many responsibilities.

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Before metal studs existed, they had to take control over the interior of almost every construction project. They framed the inside of the home as well as the outside, and from this frame, the walls and ceilings were constructed. Even today, a carpenter will often get called in for work on the framing of a building. Meanwhile, a commercial carpenter might construct bridges, large buildings or pillars.

Dangerous Work

Anyone who has looked at the type of work a carpenter does will probably feel a certain respect towards their profession and what they do. They take on dangerous work with a tremendous amount of lifting, kneeling and standing. This can cause muscle strains, and one of the biggest dangers a carpenter will face is falling while on the job. They might also have to watch for cuts and scrapes and bruises that can happen as a result of tools and saws.

The Hidden Dangers

Not only do carpenters face these dangers, they face exposure to asbestos-related construction materials when remodeling older homes, which researchers have linked to cancer. It wasn’t until 1977 that this discovery was made, and they banned the use of this dangerous construction material. Usually, you will find asbestos sprayed onto older insulation. The dangers from exposure might lay dormant for years, and someone who has no family history of cancer could later find how they developed mesothelioma.

What Was It Used In?

You will find this hazardous material used in a variety of construction products because before 1977, it was widely popular for its convenience. For example, you will find it in both residential and commercial construction projects.

Some of the places that you might find it include:

  • Insulated Pipes

  • Ceiling Tiles

  • Boiler Rooms

Occupation Exposure: What Now?

Unfortunately, some jobs like carpenter work have a hard time avoiding these dangers. Many of the renovations on some homes will happen when the structure had first been built. This means that you may have to cut away at the molding and insulation that would contain asbestos-related materials. They may have originally added it because they believed it to be fire resistant, and it had a higher soundproof level. The biggest problem with this type of work is how it releases the dust into the air, and the workers will breathe in the dust particles. You want to avoid disturbing it for that reason.

Wearing Just a Mask?

Another one of the big dangers in the habits that a carpenter has is when they only wear a face mask to protect from it. Unfortunately, the face mask won’t protect you from the fibers of a high concentration.

This is one of the reasons that OSHA chose to step in and mandate how respirators were used. Before the 1980s, carpenters who handled a sheet of asbestos-related materials would be required to cut it into an appropriate size for a variety of applications. A carpenter would get covered in the dust, which could have major health implications later in life.

Scientific Research

From a study done in 1983, researchers looked at over 127 different buildings across the United States. They soon learn how 50 percent of these building had chrysotile, which was fireproof asbestos-related insulation sprayed onto the ceilings. When the beginning of the renovation activities first started, exposure to this dangerous building material was at around two fibers per cubic centimeter.


When you contrast that with once the materials were removed, you have an exposure average of around 16.4 fibers per cubic centimeter.

Based on a medical study from 2010, physicians looked at a carpenter of 55 years old. He had developed a pleural effusion, which was a buildup of fluid within the right lung. This happened in 2000 for the right lung, and in 2003, he developed a buildup within the left lung.

In addition, the carpenter soon had pleurisy, which is an inflammation of the lungs, and it causes unbearable pain while breathing. The physicians tried to look for an identifying cause, but they couldn’t find one. However, the physicians soon learned of how the carpenter had been exposed to asbestos for just six months in 1971, as he worked with the roof sheets, which was asbestos-related cement.

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