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What Is Secondary Asbestos Exposure?

Philadelphia Mesothelioma Lawyers at Brookman, Rosenberg, Brown & Sandler Can Help You if You Have Been Exposed to Asbestos.

Secondary asbestos exposure occurs when a person is exposed to asbestos through some other means than their work. People who are exposed to asbestos in this way are at risk of developing mesothelioma and other dangerous medical issues.

Because asbestos was used in many industries for many years, people were directly exposed to asbestos frequently through their work. During the 1980s, the health consequences of this exposure became much more well known for people with first-hand exposure. Only recently has secondary exposure become more commonly discussed.

Secondary asbestos exposure occurred more frequently in women than in men. Due to the makeup of many households in the mid-twentieth century where women mostly stayed home, men who worked with or near asbestos would bring tiny fibers home, exposing their families. According to a study conducted by the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City, asbestos fibers can remain present in the homes of former factory workers for up to 20 years.

Secondary asbestos exposure is less common today than decades ago because employers are now required to provide workers with ways to change out contaminated clothes. During that time, secondary exposure happened in many ways, including the following:

  • Physical touch: When workers came home after working with or around asbestos, their family members may have hugged them, touched them, or came in close contact with them. Being that close, they could have inhaled asbestos fibers, leading to secondary exposure.
  • Doing laundry: Laundry requires close contact with a lot of clothes, some of which could have been worn at work and had asbestos fibers. When picking up laundry, a family member could have shook the clothes, causing asbestos fibers to release into the air where they could have been inhaled.
  • Furniture: When a worker came home from work, they may have sat on the couch to chat with their family. If that person did not first remove their contaminated clothes, those asbestos fibers could have attached to the furniture. When that furniture was cleaned, asbestos fibers could have released into the air.

Since asbestos can take years or even decades to develop into mesothelioma, it is only recently that secondary asbestos exposure has been discussed.

What Are the Risks of Secondary Asbestos Exposure?

In general, the risks of secondary asbestos exposure are no less than direct exposure. Many medical professionals agree that there is no safe amount of exposure to asbestos.

The risks of secondary asbestos exposure include:

  • Lung cancer.
  • Asbestosis.
  • Lung scarring.
  • Throat cancer.
  • Gastrointestinal cancer.
  • Bladder cancer.
  • Chronic bronchitis.
  • Pleurisy.
  • Pulmonary fibrosis.
  • Bronchial cancer.
  • Esophageal cancer.
  • Colorectal cancer.
  • Asthma.
  • Emphysema.
  • Tuberculosis.
  • Histoplasmosis.
  • Mesothelioma.

Asbestos can take a long time to develop into a major health concern. For this reason, many workers did not realize their health issues were directly related to secondary asbestos exposure.

Common Jobs Where Secondary Asbestos Exposure Occurred

Asbestos is resistant to fire, electricity, and many chemicals, which is why it was frequently used in construction and other related industries. It is estimated that nearly 100 different industries exposed workers to asbestos before the health risks became so well known.

Certain industries were at higher risk than others. This included many industries where workers were directly handling asbestos.

Common industries where workers could have unknowingly exposed family members include:

  • Construction workers.
  • Power plant workers.
  • Chemical plant workers.
  • Oil refinery workers.
  • Shipyard workers.
  • Sheet metal workers.
  • Boilermakers.
  • Electricians.
  • Insulators.
  • Carpenters.
  • Welders.
  • Millwrights.

What Should I Do if Asbestos Caused My Mesothelioma Diagnosis?

If you believe asbestos exposure has caused your mesothelioma diagnosis, you will want to explore your legal options. It is important to understand that you have legal rights and options available to you, especially if you can conclusively prove that asbestos exposure caused your illness. Proving asbestos exposure will not be easy, which is why it is important to have a legal professional on your side.

If you lived with someone who worked in a job which routinely used asbestos, you could have been exposed through them. That information will be crucial to your case. You should speak with a lawyer as soon as possible. A lawyer can investigate your case and figure out when and how you were exposed to asbestos.

A lawsuit is not a quick process, but this should not deter you from taking quick action. Companies that exposed workers to asbestos have set up trust funds to compensate those who have mesothelioma.

To help bolster your case, make sure you have the following:

  • Work records for your family member who was directly exposed to asbestos on the job.
  • Your medical records detailing your diagnosis and any letters or medical opinions as to the likely cause.
  • Your social security records if you have received Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

Your lawyer will investigate your claim. They will review your records and speak with medical experts. They will determine if you are eligible to use a trust fund. If not, you may have additional legal options.

Philadelphia Mesothelioma Lawyers at Brookman, Rosenberg, Brown & Sandler Can Help You if You Have Been Exposed to Asbestos

If you have been exposed to asbestos, it is imperative that you speak with a lawyer about your options. Our experienced Philadelphia mesothelioma lawyers at Brookman, Rosenberg, Brown & Sandler can help you. Call us at 215-569-4000 or complete our online form to schedule a free consultation. We are located in Philadelphia, and we serve clients throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania, including Delaware County, Chester County, and Philadelphia County.