Secondary Asbestos Exposure Increases Risk of Mesothelioma

In 1964, doctors made the first diagnosis of mesothelioma, a particularly virulent form of cancer that develops in the lining of the lungs, heart or abdomen, which is directly linked to asbestos exposure. Since that time, the evidence that asbestos exposure is the primary cause of mesothelioma has grown exponentially.

Many cases of mesothelioma developed in males because they tended to work in occupations where they were exposed to asbestos, such as in factories, mines and shipyards, more frequently than women. However, over time more women developed mesothelioma because of secondary asbestos exposure.

Secondary Asbestos Exposure in the Home

As early as 1966 doctors made the connection between mesothelioma in women and asbestos exposure in the home, sometimes referred to as domestic exposure. While women usually did not work in occupations involving asbestos, they would often greet a husband, father or grandfather who worked with asbestos immediately upon his arrival home after work, while he was still covered in dust containing asbestos fibers, resulting in secondary asbestos exposure.

Women diagnosed with mesothelioma recall kissing their husbands before the men changed clothes or crawling on their fathers' laps as children to discuss the day before their fathers showered off the asbestos dust. Women were often responsible for shaking out and cleaning the clothes that men wore to work, further exposing them to asbestos.

The amount of asbestos that a person would face in this second-hand fashion may seem insignificant. However, a 1989 study concluded that the amount of asbestos that "bystanders" encounter in domestic situations can be as high as in industrial settings.

Exposure in the Environment

Women and children also risked asbestos exposure from the surrounding environment. In towns where there were active mines, asbestos dust would get into the air and water supplies. Additionally, factories, power plants, steel mills, refineries, ship yards and rail yards that used asbestos would release the dust into the surrounding air, as it is difficult to contain. Women and children who lived near those facilities faced asbestos exposure as if they were working there, too.

Talk to an Attorney

As more evidence accumulates linking mesothelioma with secondary asbestos exposure, courts have been more willing to award mesothelioma victims compensation for the losses and expenses associated with the disease. If you have questions about asbestos exposure and liability for mesothelioma, contact an experienced mesothelioma lawyer who has demonstrated results in obtaining just and proper settlements for those struggling with the disease.