What Are The Risks Associated With Secondhand Asbestos Exposure?

A person who works directly with asbestos would be considered primary exposure, however, anyone can be subject to secondary exposure which is just as dangerous.

According to the National Cancer Institute, secondhand asbestos exposure occurs when workers bring asbestos fibers home on their clothes, shoes, or tools. Secondary exposure is often called indirect exposure, household exposure, domestic exposure, or secondhand exposure.


How Dangerous Is Secondhand Exposure To Asbestos?

It is important to remember that secondary asbestos exposure can be just as dangerous as primary asbestos exposure. Repeated secondary asbestos exposure can lead to the same health problems as primary asbestos exposure. Although secondary exposure is less common today than it was in the past, as with traditional work exposure, it may take decades for the effects to be apparent.

Asbestos workers are now required to have a place to change out of contaminated clothing, as well as showers to remove asbestos particles from their skin and hair. Prior to these regulations, employers were not required to provide similar facilities. Several years or decades may pass before asbestos exposure causes cancer or other health effects; these past exposures may continue to cause injuries to workers or their spouses, children, or other family members.

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What Are The Risks Associated With Secondary Asbestos Exposure?

There are similar health risks associated with exposure to asbestos, whether it is primary or secondary. According to the Centers for Disease Control, asbestos fibers can cause inflammation in the lungs, resulting in a variety of health problems. In addition to mesothelioma, lung cancer, asbestosis, and pleural plaques, asbestos exposure can lead to a variety of serious health conditions.

Who Is At The Highest Risk Of Secondary Asbestos Exposure?

Historically, asbestos workers were more likely to be men. The wives and children of these workers were more likely to be exposed to asbestos particles by secondhand exposure. Some children who were exposed to asbestos fibers as young adults developed mesothelioma or other health problems. Secondary exposure to asbestos may also affect family members and roommates who live with asbestos workers.

How Does Secondary Asbestos Exposure Happen?

Asbestos is a fibrous mineral found in nature. Its fibers are rough and may break into very small pieces. Because of the texture and size of the fiber pieces, they are easy to attach to hair, skin, and clothing, and can easily be transported from the job site to the home.

Asbestos-exposed clothing should be cleaned or disposed of appropriately by a professional asbestos cleaner. Washing contaminated clothing at home may result in secondary exposure. Fibers can become airborne when agitated by regular washing machines.

Asbestos fibers attached to furniture may also cause secondary exposure. When someone working closely with asbestos brushed or sat on furniture before changing out of their contaminated clothing, fibers could be left behind and transferred to other people, including their family members.

What Are Symptoms of Secondhand Asbestos Exposure?

Asbestos-related medical issues can take many years to develop. A party who experiences asbestos exposure symptoms might not realize it was asbestos exposure that caused the problem. Many of these side effects are misunderstood or written off as other medical conditions.

Coughing, chest pain, and shortness of breath are the most common asbestos exposure symptoms reported to doctors. At first, patients may think they have a cough or some other minor complaint since they are often mild.

According to Case Studies in Environmental Medicine, asbestos exposure can affect the lungs, causing the accumulation of fluid around the lungs. Secondhand asbestos exposure can also cause other health problems, such as difficulty swallowing, loss of appetite, abdominal swelling, weight loss, hernias, or clubbed fingers.

In a secondhand case, determining liability can be challenging because the worker who directly interacted with a variety of the affected products might not be around. People who were exposed to asbestos secondhand may not know which products caused the fibers to be carried home on family members. Asbestos exposure can cause lung cancer and mesothelioma. Both conditions are related to asbestos exposure, but there are important distinctions between them.

A lung cancer develops in the lung tissue itself, while a mesothelioma develops in the lining of internal organs. Particularly after exposure to asbestos, mesothelioma can develop in the lining of the lungs. Mesothelioma is almost always associated with asbestos exposure, while lung cancer is usually caused by other factors, such as smoking.

It is reported that lung cancer is most often caused by smoking, and it is the second most common form of cancer. There are around 222,500 new cases of asbestos-related cancer each year, but only a few are linked to exposure to asbestos. Contrary to this, mesothelioma is much more rare, and there are only about 2,800 new cases each year, nearly all of which are linked to exposure to asbestos as a child.

Additionally, lung cancer and mesothelioma have different development times. Lung cancer often appears between 15 and 35 years after exposure to asbestos. According to the American Cancer Society, mesothelioma develops over a period of 20 to 50 years. A patient may be able to determine if asbestos exposure was indeed responsible for their cancer diagnosis by determining what type of cancer the patient is suffering from, particularly if their doctor believes the condition may be related to earlier asbestos exposure.

The symptoms of lung cancer and mesothelioma can be similar, which can make it difficult to distinguish between them. The pleural effusion, or fluid buildup in the chest cavity, is a common finding with both mesothelioma and lung cancer. Mesothelioma, however, may also present with thickening of the pleura, whereas lung cancer does not. Scar tissue builds up in the lining of the lungs during mesothelioma. 

Does Secondhand Exposure To Asbestos Still Pose A Risk?

Researchers in Italy examined the potential for secondhand exposure in a 2017 study published in the International Journal of Occupational Medicine and Environmental Health. Over 1,000 cases of mesothelioma were examined in the study, and 35 of them were related to indirect or secondhand exposure. Those bringing these fibers home were primarily employed in shipyards.

We Are Still Fighting To Eliminate Asbestos Exposure Today.

Asbestos Exposure Compensation for Victims

In recent years, a growing number of people are accusing companies of failing to protect them from asbestos exposure. Those who have been exposed to asbestos secondary to their primary exposure may qualify to join an asbestos exposure lawsuit investigation and pursue compensation for their pain and suffering, health injuries, and distress.

The prospect of filing a lawsuit can be intimidating. King Law Firm connects you with a qualified Mesothelioma Asbestos Attorneys. You can determine if you have a claim, navigate the complexities of litigation, and maximize your potential compensation by consulting an attorney.


Get The Help You and Your Family Deserve

If you or someone you love has been exposed to asbestos and was subsequently diagnosed with the following asbestos-related illnesses:

  • Mesothelioma
  • Lung cancer
  • Larynx cancer
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Colon cancer
  • Pulmonary asbestosis
  • Asbestos-related pleural disease,

It is likely may are eligible to file an asbestos lawsuit. You will be able to seek compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other losses you have experienced.

In the event that your loved one has passed away, you may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit to get compensation for funeral expenses and other costs related to their illness.

King Law Firm is a North Carolina Based Law Firm who has been helping North Carolinians for over three decades. For more information, please call our office today at (855) 675-1978 for a free, no obligation consultation. 

We want to help you if you or a member of your family has been diagnosed with mesothelioma. Please contact one of the members of our team if you have any questions. Call (855) 205-9689 or fill out or short contact form