How does second hand asbestos exposure happen?
When we think of asbestos-related cancer victims, most of us think of workers directly exposed to asbestos fibers on the job. Even very small amounts of asbestos fibers can carry a risk of cancer, however. Asbestos-related illnesses can take as many as fifty or more years to develop, following initial exposure.
In addition to the waves of former asbestos workers facing cancer diagnoses, adult children and other family members of asbestos workers have been diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer linked to asbestos exposure.
Asbestos is the general name for a group of minerals characterized by long, thin fibers which can easily be inhaled and trapped in the tissues of the body, eventually leading to cancer. Employees who worked around asbestos fibers on a daily basis sometimes carried these fine fibers home on their clothing, exposing their spouses and children.
In addition to secondary exposure in the home, co-workers were sometimes exposed due to sharing work or break room space with peers who worked around asbestos-containing materials. Secondary asbestos exposure was particularly common in women, as they often laundered their spouse’s clothing.
Second Hand Asbestos Exposure Cancer Rates
Although asbestos-related lung cancer generally involves a significant, long-term exposure, mesothelioma is known to develop following secondary exposure to asbestos. A 2007 study found that mesothelioma rates were significantly higher among spouses of asbestos workers than among their peers.
Although female mesothelioma victims may have a lower mortality rate than their male peers, they also have a steeper dose-response curve, meaning they are more likely than men to develop disease from a smaller exposure.
Secondary Exposure and Mesothelioma
Malignant mesothelioma is caused by either primary or secondary exposure to asbestos. Because of this strong link, patients with a definitive mesothelioma diagnosis should consider the original source of their asbestos exposure.
Settlement money is often available for secondary exposure victims, even many years after the responsible company declared bankruptcy. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma resulting from secondary exposure to asbestos, contact an experienced asbestos litigation law firm to discuss your options.
Bergman Draper Oslund is the only law firm in the Pacific Northwest dedicated exclusively to mesothelioma litigation. We have obtained over $700 million in settlements on behalf of our clients, including victims of secondary asbestos exposure. Call us today for a no-cost, no-obligation consultation.