The risk of asbestos-related diseases reaches beyond the workplace and into the homes of individual workers who were exposed to asbestos while on the job. Exposure to asbestos unintentionally brought home from the workplace on clothing, tools, skin and hair of workers put their families at an increased risk of developing mesothelioma, asbestosis, lung cancer and other illnesses.
If you have questions or would like to explore your legal rights regarding a potential asbestos or mesothelioma case, please contact attorney Anne McGinness Kearse by email or call +1 800.923.4237.
We are now seeing the direct impact of asbestos on family members of workers as they are increasingly diagnosed with asbestos diseases. The incidence of mesothelioma in spouses confirms this epidemic. A review of death certificates in the United States published by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) in 2002 found that the second most common occupation recorded on the death certificates of mesothelioma victims in 1999 was "housewife/homemaker." Additionally, the study found that nearly 20% of mesothelioma deaths were females.
The majority of victims of household asbestos exposure are children and housewives who develop mesothelioma as a result of the asbestos fibers brought into the home on the clothes of others.
How Secondhand Exposure Happens
Airborne fibers in the workplace contaminate workers' clothing and personal affects and may be invisible since the asbestos fibers are microscopic. Workers then carry these fibers into their homes, thereby exposing unsuspecting children, wives and other household members to the risk of asbestos-related disease. Once in the home, normal housecleaning and laundry practices are inadequate for decontaminating the home and clothing.
Warning Signs of Household Exposure
The household exposure epidemic may have been prevented had asbestos companies used substitute materials or provided better warnings and protective clothing to workers handling their products. Many asbestos companies, however, failed to warn workers about the hazards of taking asbestos dust home on their clothes and also failed to advise workers of preventative measures to stop the transfer of asbestos from their jobsites to their homes.
It is important for family members to be alert to the warning signs of asbestos disease which include:
- back pain
- chest pain
- enlarged abdomen
- recurrent build-up of fluid in the lungs
- shortness of breath
- weight loss
The worker can be a useful source of information for a sick family member's doctor. It often can be difficult for doctors to diagnose spouses and children of workers with asbestos disease because these individuals, when asked, will not remember being exposed to asbestos. This occurs because the latency period, the time in which it takes for asbestos-related diseases to develop, may take anywhere from 10 to 60 years, depending on the disease.
If you are interested in learning more about your potential mesothelioma lawsuit, please contact us today.