Just a few decades ago, there were significantly fewer workplace protections in place for those who had to work with dangerous substances, such as asbestos. For example, workers exposed to asbestos may not have had any protective equipment or access to shower facilities on the job. They may have gone home still carrying that dangerous mineral on their body or clothing.
As a spouse or child of someone who works or worked with asbestos, you may know that your loved one is at increased risk for asbestos-related cancers like mesothelioma. What you may not realize is that you could also be at risk because of the job your loved one worked.
Secondary asbestos exposure can also lead to medical issues
When someone works with asbestos, whether they extract it from a mine or they process it into products, they have primary exposure to asbestos because of their work. Ideally, their employer will provide them with safety gear and facilities like showers to reduce their risk of exposure.
Their family members may have secondary asbestos exposure as a result of that worker’s exposure on the job. Your loved one probably brought asbestos back home on their clothing, hair, skin and boots. They may have tracked it into the house. Whether you hugged them hello as a young child or washed their laundry as a supportive spouse, you could have inhaled particulate asbestos.
Research has shown that even small levels of exposure can eventually lead to cancer. If you believe that your recent cancer diagnosis directly stems from your spouse’s asbestos-related job, you may have similar rights to theirs regarding compensation from former employers because of the illness you’ve developed.