- By Shaniqua Williams
Most people are already aware of the connection between exposure to asbestos and dangerous diseases such as lung cancer or mesothelioma. However, many still fail to grasp the actual extent of the problem, which concern both those who worked with asbestos themselves and their families.
While the workplace was by far the most common setting in which people would encounter asbestos before the 1980s, those who were not directly working with asbestos products could also come in contact with this toxic mineral. Today, this it is known as secondary asbestos exposure. During the last century, it would mostly occur when a person who had been exposed to asbestos on their job carried carcinogenic fibers home in their hair or on their clothes, thus contaminating other family members.
Occasionally, environmental exposure may be referred to as secondary exposure as well, since in this case, the inhalation or ingestion of carcinogenic fibers does not occur by direct contact with the source of pollution either. Nowadays, it is much rarer than it was in the past, when many residents would live in close proximity to asbestos plants, mines, or shipyards. In present day, environmental asbestos exposure may happen when old buildings are being renovated or demolished.
A new Italian study conducted by researchers from the University of Trieste analyzed 1,063 cases of mesothelioma which took place between 1995 and 2014. The aim of the research was to examine the attributes of pleural mesothelioma when the disease was caused by asbestos fibers brought home by a family member in order to gain a better understanding of the effects of secondary asbestos exposure.
Scientists discovered 35 cases of mesothelioma which developed as a result of secondary asbestos exposure: 33 women and 2 men. The cases refer to the following family members of asbestos workers:
The overall data confirms that secondary asbestos exposure increases the risk of developing mesothelioma in women with no history of occupational exposure. The wives were affected by mesothelioma in a relatively shorter time than the sons and the daughters, while the average time between the initial asbestos exposure and the occurrence of the first symptoms was 59 years. Sadly, due to the long latency period of this disease, there will likely be more mesothelioma cases related to secondary asbestos exposure in the near future.
Secondary asbestos exposure is just as dangerous to one's health as direct contact with asbestos. If you believe you may have been exposed to this hazardous mineral, we strongly advise you to seek medical assistance immediately. Victims of secondary asbestos exposure are also eligible for financial compensation from asbestos trust funds, so we encourage you to consider your legal options as well. Providing assistance to asbestos victims since 1990, Environmental Litigation Group, P.C. has a dedicated team of attorneys and legal experts who handle mesothelioma cases to ensure our clients receive high-quality support and advice throughout the process.