Framers and Mesothelioma

Why Some Framers Can’t Avoid Asbestos and Mesothelioma

You do framing for a living. You know your way around saws, hammers, nails, screws, levels and squares like a surgeon knows his way around the operating room.

Unfortunately, you might need a highly skilled surgeon because you are at risk of developing mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma is a cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. Many of the job sites where you’ve worked probably were to some degree contaminated by asbestos.

Until about 30 years ago, asbestos was routinely added to many types of construction materials. Among them were:

  • Gypsum sheetrock

  • Attic and ceiling-system insulation

  • Pipes and ducts

  • Bricks

You might have handled some of these in the past. Or, you might be handling some of them right now. That’s because pre-1990s asbestos-containing construction materials are still installed in many older structures.

Companies that make construction materials stopped adding asbestos to their products once the government stepped in. It made regulations severely restricting use of the cancer-causing mineral.

Scientists who study mesothelioma are not 100 percent positive about how asbestos causes the disease. But they do know with 100 percent certainty that it does.

The construction materials that contain asbestos pose little danger to you and other tradesmen onsite if left alone.

How Asbestos Enters Your Body

Once the materials are cut, hammered, drilled, sanded, jostled, banged around, thrown onto a debris pile, or run over by a vehicle, the fibers of asbestos inside break free.These fibers are very small. They also are very light in weight. Broken free, they float in the air — the same air that surrounds you.

You then breathe in the asbestos. It travels all the way down into the deepest part of your lungs and does not come back out.

Years go by. During that time, the asbestos causes changes to the genetic composition of the cells of the tissues that line your lungs.

The changes turn healthy cells into cancer. In very short order, tumors appear, multiply and spread.

Once the disease starts, it takes only a few months for this cancer left untreated to show up everywhere in your body.

Asbestos Risk from Renovation

Today, asbestos is a big problem for framers that work on renovations and expansions of homes, offices and institutional buildings erected before the 1990s.

The reason is that these types of projects involving older structures entail some amount of demolition.

Remember, doing anything to asbestos-containing construction materials releases asbestos into the air.

To demolish or dismantle parts of a building in order to renovate or expand means lots of asbestos will be released.

Asbestos Worries Union Leaders and Members

Many retired and currently employed framers are members of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America.

Asbestos exposure has been a concern among the UBC leadership — not just the rank and file.

Accordingly, the union has sought to provide comprehensive training to help members better understand how to deal with asbestos.

Signing up for this program could be a lifesaver — it might properly equip you to stay healthy for the rest of your years.

But leave nothing to chance. Mesothelioma is a vicious disease. Make time now to see a doctor familiar with the signs and symptoms of mesothelioma.