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How Dangerous Is Second-Hand Exposure to Asbestos?

Clothes on hangers

As a naturally occurring mineral, asbestos is found in many soil and rock deposits. Prior to the 1980s, the material was used heavily in many industries. As the decades have passed, we have learned more about the consequences of someone experiencing long-term asbestos exposure firsthand. When the fibers are inhaled or ingested, they can cause the development of mesothelioma—a type of cancer that often affects the lungs or abdomen.

Second-hand asbestos exposure, however, isn’t discussed nearly as often. Family members or friends of those who are exposed firsthand are also at risk of developing asbestos-related diseases. Let’s take a look at just how dangerous second-hand exposure is and what you can do if you’ve been diagnosed with mesothelioma.

How Second-Hand Asbestos Exposure Happens 

While primary asbestos exposure happens when a person works directly with asbestos or is exposed to an area where it’s present, second-hand exposure can come into contact with fibers in a number of ways. This includes coming into contact with contaminated laundry, interacting with furniture, or having physical contact with a person who works around or directly handles asbestos-containing products.

When asbestos was most commonly used in Hawaii, which was prior to the 1980s, it was primarily women and children who were at risk for secondary asbestos exposure. This is because men were typically employed in industries, like construction, that used the materials. This meant that their family members were at risk of second-hand exposure when they came home and the asbestos fibers fell from their clothes, hair, or work equipment, or remained inside the family vehicle.

For women, second-hand asbestos exposure is sometimes referred to as domestic or household exposure because of their common roles as homemakers during the time asbestos was heavily used. While women generally only account for one-third of all mesothelioma patients, the numbers have gone up in recent years as people from those previous generations age.

The Risks of Secondary Asbestos Exposure

In general, the risks of secondary asbestos exposure are the same as primary exposure. Whether a person knowingly or, more likely, unknowingly is exposed to second-hand asbestos, they may develop related illnesses later in life. The most serious is mesothelioma—which can take decades to form and be detectable.

In addition to developing mesothelioma, second-hand asbestos victims are also at risk of lung scarring, lung cancer, asbestosis, and pleural plaques—which is when the pleura membrane in the lung thickens. While there are steps victims can take to seek treatment, there are no cures for mesothelioma. Depending on the stage of the cancer and the age of a patient, more focus could be placed on comfort, as opposed to treatment.

Indirect Asbestos Exposure and Mesothelioma Lawsuits

If you’ve developed mesothelioma as a result of indirect asbestos exposure, it’s important to understand your legal rights and options. If you’re able to pinpoint who in your life was primarily exposed to asbestos, you’ll be on the path to getting a claim filed.

While workers who were exposed to asbestos at work can typically identify which products were used, people with second-hand exposure might not know how they were exposed. When you work with Frost Law Firm, PC, we’ll investigate your situation and pool our resources to determine how and why you developed mesothelioma.

Pursuing a mesothelioma lawsuit can take time. We understand how important it is to spend time with your family during this difficult time, so our attorneys will handle as much of your claim as we can—while keeping you up-to-date with everything. This way, you’ll have the time and space you need to focus on your health and loved ones, while simultaneously pursuing the compensation you’re owed.

Learn More About Your Legal Rights and Options

Learning you’ve been diagnosed with mesothelioma can be hard to cope with—especially if you never realized you were exposed to asbestos. While pursuing an indirect asbestos exposure claim presents unique challenges compared to a firsthand exposure claim, Frost Law Firm, PC has extensive experience representing mesothelioma victims and we’re prepared to take your case on next.

Pursuing a claim against the negligent party that resulted in your family’s asbestos exposure is often the only way to seek justice. Not only will you be holding that person or company responsible for your diagnosis, but you’ll also be on your way to receiving the compensation you need to take care of your medical bills and secure your family’s future.

To learn more about filing a claim or to determine if you have grounds for legal action, schedule a consultation with our firm today. We’ll review your situation and help you decide how best to proceed based on your unique circumstances.

Our Experience Is Personal

Scott L. Frost’s Family Experience with Lung Cancer

For most of his life, Scott L. Frost’s father, who was in the construction industry, worked with and sold products containing asbestos without knowing the materials were dangerous. He was diagnosed with lung cancer 40 years after starting his career, leading Scott’s family to fight like they had never fought before.

Pictured here with his wife of over 50 years, Scott’s father eventually succumbed to the cancer. Since then, Scott has made it his mission to do everything in his power to make sure corporations understand how dangerous asbestos is and prevent future generations from suffering as his family did, as well as support research that may lead to finding a cure.

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