Modern Homes: Toxic Environment for Construction Workers

[Insert cool graph showing life expectancy of carpenters in 1960 versus 2010]

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any graphs of life expectancy of carpenters, so I can’t show how all the toxic building materials are almost certainly shortening the lives of carpenters. But I did find some interesting discussion on the subject at the Journal of Light Construction forum.

“I spent 15 years as a framer and merged to builder and finished as a remodeler. During that first 15 years I smoked cigarettes, inhaled a load of pressure treated wood dust, had cement coating from nails smeared all over me daily (pre nail guns), carried lumber covered in red, green and yellow mold. I cut off my big toe, sliced my hand to recieve 80 stitches, fell off a couple of scaffolds, diminished the discs in my back, knocked some chunks of meat off tripping over stuff and was sewn up a dozen times for cuts. Building in the early 80s put me and half my peers into bankruptcy trying to pay 16% interest payments on spec houses. I finished my career remodeling for 20 years , some in the field and some in the office. When I got sick of employee and customer problems I would go back in the field and expose myself to all the remodel job junk like dust, insulation, bag goods dust, paint and all that. I am only 50 and I dont have to work anymore so things worked out good but i think it all may not be worth it. I did nothing different than anyone else I saw working in the same field as me. I think I have seriously shortened my life expectancy with this chosen career, anyone know how long carpenters, remodelers or builders usually live?”

Other interesting stories at the Journal of Light Construction forum
Related: EPA Indoor Air Facts No. 4 Sick Building Syndrome PDF

10 thoughts on “Modern Homes: Toxic Environment for Construction Workers”

  1. I don’t have any hard data but my Grandfather was a carpenter in the 60s through the early 80s, he died of esophagus cancer not long after he retired. I guess several of his buddies from work also got cancer, mostly lung and throat cancer.

    • Thanks for sharing. When I was young and just starting out in carpentry training, we were told that carpenters had one of the longest lifespans. It was promoted as a healthy profession. And it probably was up until the 1970’s or so. That’s when more and more toxic materials were introduced.

  2. I imagine this would be a good topic for a student to investigate and write on for their thesis.

    It would be difficult to find the information, unless you’re looking in all the “wrong places.” People track career fields’ average salaries over long periods of time, but (now this is a guess, mind) the only people who are likely to be tracking average lifespans for specific career fields are going to be those career fields’ detractors. That, on its face, would make any information they’ve gathered suspect, at the very least. That’s just my opinion, of course.

    • I figure there’s fairly reliable industry and government statistics somewhere. It just takes time and effort to hunt down the info. It may require going to the reference department of a major library.


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.