Unfortunately, the risk of being diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease not only reaches further within the workplace than most expect, but it can also reach beyond the workplace and into the home.
In some cases, workers and tradespeople who developed an asbestos-related disease were not working directly with asbestos or asbestos-containing products, but instead were bystanders working near those handling the harmful fibers and unknowingly inhaled the free-floating particles. These airborne concentrations of asbestos could be even higher for bystanders working near asbestos handlers in enclosed environments such as ships and tunnels.
Additionally, tens of thousands of workers who have succumbed to asbestos-related diseases also unknowingly brought the deadly fibers home on their work clothes, tools, skin or hair, inadvertently exposing their families.
Many asbestos companies failed to warn workers about the hazards of working near those handling asbestos, as well as the risk of taking asbestos dust home on their clothes, or failed to advise workers of preventative measures. Airborne fibers in the workplace contaminate workers' clothing and personal effects, and are invisible since the asbestos fibers are microscopic. When it comes to household exposure, normal housecleaning and laundry practices are not adequate to decontaminate the home and clothing, and some victims of household asbestos-related diseases have been exposed through the laundering of clothes carrying the fibers.
Sadly, 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 reported for mesothelioma victims in 1999 was “housewife/homemaker,” as any trade dealing with asbestos or asbestos-containing products, or trades conducted in close proximity to those handling asbestos, has the potential for workers to bring asbestos dust home on their clothing.
Our Experience in Asbestos Litigation
Motley Rice lawyers have more than three decades of experience in asbestos and mesothelioma lawsuits, representing victims of occupational, environmental and household asbestos exposure suffering from symptoms of mesothelioma, asbestos lung cancer, asbestosis, pleural disorders and other asbestos-related diseases. Motley Rice attorneys were some of the first to try a domestic asbestos exposure case in West Virginia in the lawsuit Cox vs. A&I Company.
Our attorneys have represented household and bystander asbestos exposure victims and over the years have compiled thousands of documents and resources regarding asbestos exposure in dozens of trades and even specific job sites. Our research includes working with unions, worker testimony, site information including co-workers and products used on-site, as well as numerous other resources.
If you would like to explore your legal rights regarding a potential asbestos exposure lawsuit, please contact our asbestos team by email or call 1.800.768.4026.
Warning Signs of Household Asbestos Exposure
It can often be difficult for doctors to diagnose spouses and children of workers with asbestos-related disease because these people, when asked, may remember the dust that came home on their loved one’s clothing but may not have known at the time that it was asbestos dust. Additionally, the latency period for asbestos-related diseases—the time it takes for the diseases to develop—is anywhere from 10 to 60 years, depending on the disease.
Common Asbestos-Related Disease Symptoms
It is important for family members to be alert to the warning signs of asbestos disease, which may include:
- back pain
- chest pain
- enlarged abdomen
- pleurisy (inflammation of the lining of the lungs)
- recurrent build-up of fluid in the lungs
- shortness of breath
- weight loss
If you or a loved one has been exposed to asbestos, you may be at risk for developing several diseases, including mesothelioma, a cancer that affects the mesothelial cells that line the chest, abdominal and heart cavities. Our attorneys and staff are trained to look for and help narrow down unsuspecting exposures in a client’s history.