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Incidence of Mesothelioma Among a Variety of Occupations

Carpenters: A High Mesothelioma Incidence Rate

Since the 1930's, industrial hygiene authorities have been well aware that the release of asbestos fibers from asbestos-containing materials could pose serious health problems to workers who were exposed to it. Carpenters were among one of the many construction trades exposed to asbestos on a daily basis. Before warnings were placed on asbestos-containing products in the late 1970's, those who worked in the construction or home remodeling industries, including carpenters, were exposed to asbestos through a variety of products.

At construction and shipbuilding sites, carpenters were routinely exposed to asbestos-containing products, including, roofing materials, floor and acoustical ceiling tiles, fireproofing materials, and pipe covering. A study conducted from 1988-1994 in North Carolina, observed mortality patterns among all male construction workers and compared this number to male deaths expected in the entire North Carolina population. The findings were published in the Journal of Applied Occupational and Environmental Hygiene, "Construction trades found to have statistically elevated cancer risks include laborers and roofers (buccal cavity, painters (pharynx), laborers (peritoneum), and carpenters, painters, brick masons, and operating engineers (lung). These data are consistent with other reports demonstrating excess mortality from asbestos-related diseases (pneumoconiosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma) among construction workers." 1

A similar study was also conducted in Australia from 1979-1995. Australia as a producer and user of asbestos materials has one of the highest incidence rates of mesothelioma in the world. Traditional exposure to asbestos has been attributed to crocidolite mining and milling. More recently, the incidence of mesothelioma in Australia can be directly linked to the building industry, "The largest number of cases came from carpenters, electricians, painters, and laborers, many of whom have been involved in handling, cutting, and installing amphibole-containing asbestos cement roofing and cladding, and in their continued maintenance or demolition. The building trades had considerable expansion in the workforce since the post-war construction growth, and the introduction of power tools had also created higher potential for dust exposure." 2 Additionally, the same report indicated, "Many carpenters and laborers had worked with asbestos cement products which were commonly used in construction between 1950 and the 1970's." 3

Prevalence of asbestos-related diseases is clearly not specific to one country or region of the world. Despite countless medical and scientific studies linking exposure to asbestos-containing materials to the development of mesothelioma, carpenters continue to carry one of the highest world-wide mortality rates from mesothelioma, "A survey of asbestos-related mortality in Northern Ireland between 1985 and 1994 found carpenters and jointers to have a PMR of 397 for pleural cancers (mesothelioma) that was statistically significant at the 5% level." 4

In short, carpenters have one of the highest incidence rates for developing mesothelioma, because of asbestos exposure while working in the construction, home remodeling and shipbuilding industries. If you or a loved one were once employed as a carpenter, and have developed mesothelioma, please contact us for a free and confidential case evaluation.


1 Wang, E., Dement, J.M., and Lipscomb, H., "Mortality Among North Carolina Construction Workers, 1988-1994", Applied Occupational and Environmental Hygiene, 14.1, 45-58, 1999.

2 Yeung, Paul, Rogers, Alan and Johnson, Anthony, "Distribution of Mesothelioma Cases in Different Occupational Groups and industries in Australia, 1979-1995", Applied Occupational and Environmental Hygiene, 14.11, 759-767, 1999.
*Full Article: http://dx.doi.org/1.1080/104732299302189

3 Yeung, Paul, Rogers, Alan and Johnson, Anthony, "Distribution of Mesothelioma Cases in Different Occupational Groups and industries in Australia, 1979-1995", Applied Occupational and Environmental Hygiene, 14.11, 759-767, 1999.
*Full Article: http://dx.doi.org/1.1080/104732299302189

4 O'Reilly, D., Reid, J., Middleton, R., and Gavin, A.T., "Asbestos-related mortality in Northern Ireland: 1985-1994", Journal of Public Health Medicine, 21.1, 95-101, 1999.