Asbestos Exposure in Painters

Painters are required to work in a variety of environments, making this seemingly less risky profession more hazardous than it may initially appear. Because painters work on many types of commercial, industrial, and residential buildings, they can often be placed at risk of asbestos exposure.

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Painters and Asbestos Exposure

Asbestos is present in many buildings that were completed before the 1980s. Anyone working as a painter during this time was in danger of developing an asbestos-related illness. Painters today can encounter asbestos hazards in older buildings or structurally compromised buildings.

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The potential for painters to be exposed to asbestos manifests in a frightening number of places. In addition to being present buildings, asbestos was present in a large percentage of the products painters used and handled.

Painters’ products that contained asbestos included:

  • Coatings and glosses
  • Drywall
  • Fillers and drying agents
  • House siding and cement siding
  • Joint or drywall compound
  • Paints
  • Shingles
  • Tape
  • Wall tile backing, panels, and coverings

Painters worked in close proximity to these asbestos-containing products and did not have sufficient safety gear to protect them from exposure. Painters working in close quarters and enclosed atmospheres with such products could have inhaled asbestos fibers many times.

Painters and Asbestos Exposure Today

Painters are still at risk of asbestos exposure today. Some painters still work in buildings or on worksites where asbestos is present. Others may be involved in asbestos abatement projects.

In cases where intact asbestos cannot safely be removed entirely, it can be sealed in to prevent it from becoming airborne. While special coatings and encapsulants are used for this purpose, painters may sometimes be required to apply paint after the asbestos has been sealed in.

In other cases, a painter may be hired to paint over asbestos roof tiles. All of this must be done with proper safety precautions. While the risk is minimized, it is still present.

Painter Roles and Responsibilities

Although the role of a painter may seem simple, there are many aspects to the job. Their responsibilities depend on the painter’s specialty.

An industrial painter, for example, applies paints, enamels, and varnishes to a range of surfaces and materials in an industrial setting. Painters could work closely with heavy-duty machinery, vehicles, or manufacturing equipment. Some painters are required to be present on construction sites.

House painters work primarily in residential settings. Sometimes painters were exposed to asbestos aboard ships, such as U.S. Navy or commercial vessels. Within every specialty, there were many ways a painter could have been exposed to asbestos.

Painters and Mesothelioma

Whether painters were exposed to asbestos in their products or their work environments, the health hazards were great. Without adequate protective gear, painters could have easily inhaled or ingested asbestos fibers.

Inhaling and ingesting asbestos can lead to several possible illnesses, including mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma develops when the inhaled or ingested fibers become embedded in the heart, lungs, or abdomen. Fibers cause irritation to the surrounding tissue, damaging healthy cells and triggering them to mutate.

Eventually, tumors can develop, but symptoms may not present themselves for decades after the initial exposure.

Asbestos can also lead to other illnesses in painters who were exposed on the job. Some painters may develop asbestosis, chronic respiratory issues, and types of cancer other than mesothelioma.

Compensation for Painters With Mesothelioma

If you developed an asbestos-related illness while working as a painter, you might be eligible for financial compensation. By working with a mesothelioma lawyer, you can build a case against negligent asbestos companies who may be at fault for your exposure.

Our Justice Support Team can connect you to important legal and medical resources. See all the ways we can help right now.

Author:Stephanie Kidd

Editor-in-Chief of the Mesothelioma Justice Network

Stephanie Kidd

Stephanie Kidd works tirelessly as a dedicated advocate for the vulnerable and underrepresented. Stephanie worked as a copywriter for an agency whose focus was communicating safety procedures on construction work sites. With her extensive background in victim advocacy and a dedication to seeing justice done, Stephanie works hard to ensure that all online content is reliable, truthful and helpful.

Last modified: September 18, 2019

View 4 Sources
  1. JobHero. “Industrial Painter Job Description." Retrieved from http://www.jobhero.com/industrial-painter-job-description/. Accessed on May 11, 2018.
  2. Jim’s Asbestos Removal. “What Is Asbestos Encapsulation?” Retrieved from https://www.jimsasbestosremoval.com.au/what-is-asbestos-encapsulation/. Accessed on May 11, 2018.
  3. NCBI. "OCCUPATIONAL EXPOSURE AS A PAINTER." Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK304433/. Accessed on May 11, 2018.
  4. Victorian Government. “Sealing, painting, coating and cleaning of asbestos cement products." Retrieved from http://www.asbestos.vic.gov.au/in-the-workplace/sealing-painting-coating-and-cleaning-asbestos-cement-products. Accessed on May 11, 2018.
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