Cabinet Makers and Asbestos Exposure
No matter where a cabinet maker works, it’s sure to be dusty. Cabinet making involves numerous processes to shape and finish wood as well as other porous materials. As cabinet components are cut, sawn, sanded, and finished, the process creates clouds of fine dust particles.
Dust is a natural part of the cabinet-making process and nearly impossible to avoid. Unfortunately, this dust used to contain asbestos.
During the 20th century, many materials in the cabinet making industry were asbestos-based. Asbestos was also commonly used in several other construction products, which exposed everyone nearby — including cabinet makers — to dangerous airborne asbestos fibers.
How Cabinet Makers Were Exposed to Asbestos
While cabinet makers were often exposed to asbestos in their own products, they also encountered asbestos in their work environment. Many cabinet makers completed their work directly on construction job sites rather than in a factory or shop setting.
Cabinet makers often inhaled asbestos dust from common construction materials, such as:
- Drywall and other wallboard products including adhesives and joint tape
- Floor and ceiling tiles
- Insulation used in walls as well as kitchen and bathroom pipes
- Roof shingles and roofing paper
- Masonry mortar dust and other asbestos cement products
While new construction sites posed a serious risk of asbestos exposure to cabinet makers, demolition, and renovation sites could be equally hazardous.
Even today, cabinet makers work on renovations in older houses and commercial buildings that contain asbestos in their cabinets and other construction materials. Tearing apart old work releases dormant asbestos fibers into the air.
Asbestos fibers are microscopic and invisible. Cabinet workers could put their family at risk of exposure by returning home wearing dusty work clothes contaminated with asbestos fibers. When disturbed, these fibers would float through the air, where they could be ingested or inhaled by family members.