Secondary Asbestos Exposure

The rough texture of asbestos fibers allows them to become embedded in fabrics very easily. Shockingly, it was quite common for workers to return home covered in visible asbestos dust. In addition to clothes, fibers would also linger in their hair and on their skin. If the person would not change work clothes upon arriving home, asbestos would spread throughout the house as well (for instance, fibers could stick to armchairs or carpets).

Children would be exposed to asbestos by greeting their father or grandfather, since the vast majority of industrial workers were men, whereas women would inhale toxic fibers while shaking out their husbands’ work clothes before washing them.

Fortunately, secondary asbestos exposure is no longer a concern nowadays, as the few U.S. companies which still employ this toxic mineral comply with safety regulations and have adequate workplace practices meant to protect both employees and people outside the facility. In countries where asbestos exploitation and use are poorly regulated by the government or completely legal, however, secondary exposure still poses a tremendous risk to the spouses and children of asbestos workers.

What Diseases Can Secondary Asbestos Exposure Cause?

Asbestos is a health hazard regardless of the circumstances in which people inhale carcinogenic fibers. Accordingly, secondary exposure can be responsible for the same diseases as contamination which occurs in occupational, environmental, and domestic settings. Even though mesothelioma usually ensues following heavy or long-term asbestos exposure, it is oddly prevalent among the victims of secondary exposure. Not few are the cases of women who came to develop this terrible cancer after years of laundering their husbands’ asbestos-laden work clothes, blissfully unaware that they were breathing in toxic fibers each time they did the washing. It is estimated that 8% of mesothelioma patients are women, over half of whom underwent secondary asbestos exposure.

Besides mesothelioma, secondary asbestos exposure can result in the following diseases: