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What are the Dangers of Secondary Asbestos Exposure?

Asbestos exposure can cause deadly respiratory conditions, such as asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma, a rare cancer infecting the lining of the lungs and chest cavity. Direct asbestos exposure can occur in the workplace in many industries, in older buildings, and even when using certain products. Even those who are not directly exposed may be in danger if they experience secondary exposure.

Asbestos use has been heavily restricted since the 1980s, after the link between asbestos and serious illness was firmly established. For most of the 20th century, however, it was used heavily in numerous industries, including construction, shipbuilding, manufacturing, and asbestos mining. Workers in these industries regularly encountered and handled asbestos in the workplace, often with few safety protocols in place. Years later, many of them were diagnosed with respiratory diseases. Moreover, physicians observed that their family members were also becoming ill, despite not working with asbestos.

Bringing Asbestos Home

When asbestos fibers become airborne, they can be inhaled or ingested, and they can coat a worker’s clothing, shoes, and tools. Workers who bring these asbestos particles home with them each day spread the fibers to their cars, furniture, and carpets. People in their household can be repeatedly exposed to asbestos secondhand, and many can be diagnosed with the same asbestos-related diseases as the workers in their family. Secondary asbestos exposure is thought to be a factor in approximately 20 percent of mesothelioma diagnoses. Due to the fact that men comprised the majority of the workforce in much of the 20th century, it is thought to be the primary cause of mesothelioma among women.

Although some workers still encounter asbestos in the workplace, health and safety regulations have evolved to keep them and their families safe from exposure. Workers must be given personal protective equipment when working near or with asbestos products, and workplaces must have facilities available for workers to change their clothes and shower before leaving for the day. Clothing worn on the job that may be contaminated with asbestos should be washed by specialized laundry services, as regular household washing machines will not eliminate the asbestos.

Who is At-Risk?

As far back as 1897, physicians were noticing higher rates of illness among workers’ family members, but officials in the United States did not establish the connection to asbestos until the 1960s. Though the risk of worker exposure, and consequently secondary exposure, has been drastically reduced in recent decades, workers and their families who were exposed before the 1970s are still developing asbestos-related diseases. The latency period for mesothelioma is 20 to 50 years, meaning that the majority of people exposed to asbestos will not develop symptoms for decades after exposure. Cases of mesothelioma among children are rare, but children who were exposed at home decades ago may still be diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease. Once symptoms develop, most mesothelioma patients have a short life expectancy.

Philadelphia Mesothelioma Lawyers at Shein Law Seek Justice for Asbestos Exposure Victims

The Philadelphia mesothelioma lawyers at Shein Law help secondary exposure victims who have been diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases. We will thoroughly review the facts of your case to determine who is at-fault for your asbestos exposure and fight to obtain the compensation you deserve. Call us today at 877-743-4652 or contact us online to discuss your case. With offices in Philadelphia and Pennsauken, New Jersey, we proudly serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

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