Everyone knows what a painter does and many people have hired them to do jobs in their home or place of business. Many individual home owners also choose to do some painting on their own when needed, opting for a do-it-yourself job rather than hiring an expensive contractor. But professional painters are still widely used and provide an important service to both business and home owners.
Painters and Asbestos
Painters don't just paint walls and ceilings. Their job involves much more. They paint tanks and other vessels, pipes, and a host of other surfaces. Painters are also responsible for other tasks that go hand-in-hand with painting, such as cleaning, priming, taping, patching, filling, caulking, scraping and sanding - tasks performed before the surface ever sees that first coat of paint.
One might think that painters have little to worry about concerning exposure to asbestos. After all, paint doesn't contain asbestos (with perhaps a few exceptions). However, in the process of painting, painters encounter many other materials that may contain this toxic mineral and, furthermore, all of the processes mentioned above may result in the release of hazardous asbestos dust and fibers.
Products containing asbestos that painters may have come in contact with - especially prior to the 1980s - include:
- Joint compounds
- Drywall tape
- Wall coverings
While it was normal to paint over asbestos-containing materials in order to enclose or encapsulate them, the very act of doing so may have put painters in danger. If, at any time, these asbestos products had to be sawed, drilled, cut, hammered, or otherwise altered, asbestos dust may have been produced and released into the air, resulting in inhalation of fibers by the painter and others working in the area.
In some cases, painters wore face masks or respirators to protect them from toxic fumes, and - in turn - this protective gear also helped them avoid asbestos inhalation. However, for decades, some painters wore no protective gear and were eventually diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases, such as asbestosis and mesothelioma.
Last modified: December 09, 2009.