While the dangers of asbestos exposure have long been known - particularly when it comes to asbestos-related illnesses such as mesothelioma - many people are not aware that they may be at risk even though they have never directly worked with the hazardous material in the past.
Indeed, while research indicates that health risks increase with greater contact, asbestos-related diseases have been discovered in individuals with only minor asbestos exposure. For instance, many asbestos victims only encounter the material due to some form of interaction with another person - otherwise known as secondary asbestos exposure.
Secondary asbestos exposure
Essentially, secondary exposure to asbestos occurs when an individual is exposed to asbestos even though he or she has never worked directly with the material. Typically, this form of exposure involves circumstances in which a worker in an asbestos-related industry gets asbestos on his or her clothing, and then brings the deadly fibers home - unwittingly exposing his or her spouse and children in the process.
Despite the fact that asbestos has been eradicated in most industries, this was certainly not the case in the past. In fact, due to its ability to insulate well and resist heat, asbestos was commonly used in countless trades. For example, it could be found in building materials - such as floor tiles and insulation - as well as a variety of car parts. Sadly, when workers in these industries would come home, they would often bring asbestos fibers along for the ride. Consequently, the seemingly harmless act of laundering clothes, or simply dusting off boots, could expose everyone in the home to the toxic material.
Asbestos exposure and mesothelioma
Tragically, every year roughly 2000 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma in the U.S., which, as mentioned above, is an asbestos-related disease. Specifically, mesothelioma is a type of cancer that typically develops after asbestos fibers become imbedded in the thin tissue that surrounds a person's lungs - ultimately resulting in abnormal cell growth. Unfortunately, it is also a disease that can take decades before symptoms will present themselves. This means that an individual may eventually suffer from mesothelioma even though he or she was only exposed to asbestos as a child years ago.
Besides mesothelioma, there are several other forms of cancer that have been linked to asbestos exposure, including:
- Lung cancer
- Esophageal cancer
- Laryngeal cancer
- Colon cancer
If you or a loved one has developed an asbestos-related illness, it is often best to seek the counsel of an experienced asbestos litigation attorney. A skilled attorney can explain your rights and help investigate the source of your exposure