Primary asbestos exposure has long been proven harmful to the health of those exposed. Certain sectors like construction or shipbuilding industries have a higher risk of asbestos exposure, but the adverse effects do not end at the workplace. Workers can take asbestos home to their families, putting them at risk of developing asbestos-related complications later in life. This is known as secondary exposure, and it can be as deadly.
Repeated long-term exposure can cause the same disease as primary exposure, such as mesothelioma. While secondary exposure is less common than it was decades ago due to improved safety regulations, it is not entirely stamped out.
How does secondary exposure occur?
Asbestos fibers can break into tiny pieces, which means that they can easily stick to clothes or the skin of those directly exposed who then carry them home. Common exposure sources include:
- Laundry. By handling clothing that was exposed to asbestos, you are exposing yourself to harmful fibers. In addition, you cannot easily wash out all the asbestos from contaminated clothes. If anything, washing such garments with regular washing machines will make the asbestos airborne and may even contaminate other clothes.
- Furniture. Asbestos fibers can become embedded onto couches, beds, or other furniture from the clothes or skin of someone initially exposed, putting the whole household at risk of exposure.
- Physical contact with family members before decontaminating will expose them to asbestos. This includes hugs or any other form of physical contact.
As mentioned earlier, the consequences of secondary exposure are similar to those of direct exposure. Given the amount of time that it takes for the effects to show, your loved ones may have been unknowingly exposed to asbestos for years. While they do not necessarily have to develop mesothelioma from that, you may want to explore that avenue if your child or spouse shows such symptoms.
If your loved ones may be victims of secondary asbestos exposure, protect their legal rights by taking the proper steps to ensure that justice is served. It may take the form of compensation which will go a long way in offsetting medical bills and other losses.