It is not simply U.S. Navy veterans, construction workers, machinists, industrial workers and firefighters who are at risk of a mesothelioma diagnosis. It also is their families and anyone who has regular contact with them.
Why? Because the latter group often is subjected to secondary exposure to the asbestos fibers, dust and debris that their spouses, fathers, mothers, sons and daughters may unknowingly bring home attached to their clothing, skin, hair and tools. Secondary exposure to the mineral often is the leading cause of mesothelioma in women.
Mesothelioma may strike decades later
It is important that families of workers who regularly deal with asbestos understand that they, too, are susceptible to a mesothelioma diagnosis. This almost always fatal type of cancer strikes decades after initial exposure, causing damage primarily to the lungs and stomach.
Also, people who do not typically work with asbestos-containing products may unknowingly suffer exposure attributed to naturally occurring asbestos in rocks and soils. A construction worker digging trenches may encounter asbestos.
Sources of secondary asbestos fibers in the home
The sources of secondary asbestos exposure may include:
- Laundry: The laundry chute may contain asbestos-contaminated clothes from a worker regularly exposed to asbestos. To avoid this, properly dispose of the clothing. Place it in a plastic bag, seal it and contact the health department.
- Furniture: When a worker does not change asbestos-contaminated clothing, the mineral’s fibers will float around the house, often landing on chairs, couches, beds and carpets.
- Physical contact: Hugs and even handholding may lead to asbestos dust and fibers spreading from one person to another. Fibers on a person’s hair and skin may lead someone to indirectly expose a loved one.
The result of secondary exposure to asbestos is often the same as primary exposure to the mineral. It may lead to mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestos.
The importance of awareness
Awareness is critical when it comes to any type of exposure to asbestos – a mineral often found in building materials such as roofing, insulation and tiles. Workers exposed to asbestos-containing products must take great care to ensure those fibers do not cause harm to loved ones.