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Cabinetmakers - Mesothelioma Risks

Mesothelioma is a rare but aggressive cancer that affects the mesothelium - the thin lining of tissue that surrounds the heart, lungs, and abdominal cavity. In around 90 percent of all cases, mesothelioma has been linked to asbestos exposure. The other 10 percent of cases of the disease generally have suspected, but unconfirmed exposure to asbestos.

Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous mineral that was initially thought to be an ideal construction material. It is light, very durable, has a high resistance to heat and electricity, and can withstand chemical wear. These properties make asbestos very useful for insulation purposes - it was cheap, easy to use, and could retain heat very efficiently. Moreover, it was fire resistant, so installing it in buildings made residents ostensibly much safer.

Unfortunately, for many years before it was all but completely removed from markets, the detrimental health effects of asbestos were very well known. It was not always known to cause mesothelioma, but for nearly a century, its ability to cause lung disease has been scientifically documented. Although we still don't know the precise mechanisms by which the fibers cause mesothelioma, we do have a much better idea of things now.

Asbestos fibers are very tiny, and when they break off a product that contains asbestos, the fibers become airborne and float in the air like dust. Once in the atmosphere, they can be swallowed or inhaled, and can lodge themselves in the airways of people who breath them in. There, they can damage and sensitive lung tissue, causing a disease known as asbestosis, which is characterized by difficulty breathing and decreased lung capacity. From the lungs, the fibers can gradually work their way to the mesothelium that surrounds the lungs. There, they can mutate normal mesothelial cells, turning them into malignant mesothelioma cells. These cells begin to divide uncontrollably, creating a tumor that eventually kills its host.

In addition to insulation, asbestos was commonly used in adhesives, tiles, and cement. Asbestos was therefore commonly found around construction sites. Any worker on a construction site while asbestos was being installed or worked on was at risk for asbestos exposure. This includes cabinetmakers - if a cabinetmaker was on site while asbestos fibers were being released into the air, there is a good chance that . While the asbestos was left alone, it posed no health risk, but as it was being moved around, cut, and hammered, tiny fibers were sloughing off into the air.

Despite the fact that asbestos is, for the most part, no longer used in construction materials, cabinetmakers today are still at some risk of asbestos exposure. Many older buildings still have asbestos in their walls, floors, and ceilings, and if the proper precautions aren't taken, workers performing renovations may unwittingly expose themselves to the deadly material.

If you believe that you have ever worked on a construction site that had asbestos in some shape or form on the premises, you should visit your doctor regularly to monitor the health of your lungs and mesothelium. Even small amounts of asbestos have been shown to cause mesothelioma. Although the cancer is incurable, an early diagnosis usually means a better prognosis.

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Workers at Risk for Asbestos Exposure

Below are a list of occupations and trades that were at risk for asbestos exposure:

Last Edited: Thu November 14, 2013