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What Is Secondary Asbestos Exposure?

A middle-aged industrial worker is seen intensely focused on operating or repairing machinery in a factory setting.

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral once widely used in construction and manufacturing. While the dangers of direct asbestos exposure are well-documented, secondary exposure remains a lesser-known but equally serious concern.

If you have developed a health condition due to asbestos exposure, it's important to understand your rights and potential legal options. Read on to learn what secondary exposure is and how an asbestos attorney from our law firm can help you pursue a claim.

What is the difference between secondary and primary asbestos exposure?

Primary asbestos exposure occurs when someone directly handles asbestos-containing materials or works in environments where asbestos fibers are present in the air. This typically affects workers in industries such as construction, shipbuilding, and automotive repair.

Secondary asbestos exposure, on the other hand, happens when someone comes into contact with asbestos fibers without directly handling asbestos-containing materials. This can occur by having frequent contact with someone who has been directly exposed or through environmental contamination. This type of exposure is often associated with family members of workers who directly handle asbestos-containing materials.

Other examples include:

  • People living near asbestos mines, factories, or construction sites that use asbestos materials.
  • Using products that contain asbestos, such as older hair dryers, ironing board covers, or certain talcum powders.
  • Living in areas with naturally occurring asbestos deposits or in buildings with deteriorating asbestos-containing materials.
  • Being present in a home garage while someone works on older car brakes or clutches that contain asbestos.
  • Students and staff in older school buildings where asbestos-containing materials are deteriorating.

Who is most at risk for secondary asbestos exposure?

Family members of asbestos workers, particularly those employed before the 1980s, face a higher risk of secondary asbestos exposure. Wives who laundered their husbands' work clothes and children who greeted their parents returning from work in contaminated clothing were especially vulnerable.

Communities located near asbestos mines or manufacturing facilities have also shown higher rates of asbestos-related diseases due to environmental exposure. Additionally, occupants of older buildings may also be at risk if the asbestos-containing materials are in poor condition or disturbed, particularly those constructed before the 1980s when asbestos use was more common.

What health risks are associated with secondary asbestos exposure?

Secondary asbestos exposure can lead to the same health risks as primary exposure, albeit with a typically longer latency period. The most severe asbestos-related diseases include:

  • Mesothelioma: Mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive cancer affecting the lining of the lungs, chest, abdomen, or heart.
  • Lung Cancer: Asbestos exposure significantly increases the risk of lung cancer, especially in smokers.
  • Asbestosis: This is a chronic lung disease characterized by scarring of lung tissue, leading to breathing difficulties.
  • Other respiratory issues: Secondary asbestos exposure can also lead to pleural plaques, pleural thickening, and pleural effusions.

How is secondary asbestos exposure detected?

Detecting secondary asbestos exposure can be challenging due to the long latency period of related diseases. Diseases associated with asbestos often take 20 to 50 years to develop after exposure.

However, environmental testing can help identify the presence of asbestos fibers in homes or workplaces. For those concerned about past exposure, medical screenings (including chest X-rays and pulmonary function tests) can help detect early signs of asbestos-related diseases.

How can you prevent secondary asbestos exposure?

Preventing secondary asbestos exposure involves taking the following measures:

  • Workplace safety measures: Strict regulations now require proper protective equipment and decontamination procedures for workers handling asbestos.
  • Proper handling of contaminated clothing: Those who work around asbestos should change out of work clothes before leaving the workplace and ensure these clothes are properly cleaned or disposed of.
  • Home safety precautions: In older homes, it's important to be aware of potential asbestos-containing materials and to hire professionals for any renovations or removals.

What are your legal options if you're affected by asbestos exposure?

If you or a loved one has experienced secondary asbestos exposure, don't wait to seek justice. You may be entitled to compensation, even if your exposure happened decades ago. Billions of dollars are available in asbestos trust funds and through legal claims. These funds are intended to cover medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages for exposure victims.

An experienced asbestos attorney at the Ferrell Law Group can help determine all possible sources of exposure and identify who may be liable. We can also handle all legal paperwork and negotiate for a maximum settlement on your behalf. Our track record of success is proven in our case results, including:

  • $5 million for an oil worker who developed mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure.
  • $4.7 million for a woman who suffered mesothelioma due to indirect exposure to asbestos.
  • $2.8 million for a military veteran who suffered health complications due to asbestos exposure.

Time limits apply, so don't delay. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation. Get the answers and advocacy you deserve.

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