Secondary asbestos exposure occurs when a worker who is exposed to asbestos at work brings asbestos fibers home. This puts their loved ones at risk of getting mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases, including lung cancer and asbestosis.
Secondary asbestos exposure is especially frequent among women and children. Before strict asbestos regulations were passed in the 1970s, asbestos workers often brought home asbestos dust on their clothes, tools, and shoes.
While primary asbestos exposure at work gets the most attention from the media, secondary asbestos exposure is just potentially deadly. Any amount of exposure to asbestos can cause deadly health problems, including asbestos cancer in the lungs and abdomen. (asbestos.com)
Dangers of Secondary Asbestos Exposure Known For A Century
It was in 1897 that one of the first doctors talked about cancer in asbestos workers. He also noted that asbestos exposure to their families could cause health problems. Documented cases of secondary asbestos exposure go back as early as the 1940s in the UK. But it was not until the 1960s in the US that the risks of secondary asbestos exposure were understood.
Studies have confirmed the dangers of secondary asbestos exposure. A clinical study in 1989 found that secondary exposure can lead to asbestos exposure levels similar to industrial settings. (NIH.gov)
Some of the other names for secondary asbestos exposure are:
- Domestic exposure
- Indirect exposure
- Secondhand exposure
- Household exposure
Common ways that secondhand exposure to asbestos can occur include: (mesowatch.com)
- Contact with contaminated skin or hair
- Contact with contaminated clothing
- Contact with contaminated tools, shoes, and other items
- Contact with contaminated furniture
Secondary asbestos exposure is not as common in the US as it was decades ago. Companies now must provide employees with places to chance out of dirty work clothes before they go home.
Employers also must have shower facilities so employees can wash asbestos dust off their skin and hair before leaving work. Employers also need to use a special type of laundry service to clean contaminated clothing. (mesotheliomahub.com)
Secondary Asbestos Exposure Examples and Lawsuits
There are a few states that have awarded mesothelioma compensation to victims of secondary asbestos exposure, such as New Jersey, Washington state, and California.
Determining liability in these cases can be more complicated than in primary exposure cases. Workers who were exposed to asbestos at work can usually identify the products that led to their asbestos exposure and subsequent disease.
People exposed to asbestos secondhand might not know which products gave them cancer. This is especially likely if the loved one who brought the dangerous powder home on them has died.
New Jersey was one of the first states to provide mesothelioma compensation to secondary asbestos exposure victims. In 2006, the supreme court in New Jersey found that the husbands or wives of asbestos workers could hold companies liable for asbestos diseases caused by secondhand exposure.
Below are specific examples where secondary asbestos exposure victims won compensation for their injuries.
John Panza, Jr.
A 40-year old English professor named John Panza was diagnosed with asbestos cancer in 2012. For more than three decades, his father was employed at a brake plant called National Friction Products Corp where products were abraded and drilled. As a child, he helped his dad wash his clothes from work. In 2012, he filed a personal injury lawsuit against his father’s former employer, alleging that he breathed in asbestos fibers from the firm’s products.
In 2012, a jury in Ohio found National Friction to blame for Panza’s mesothelioma. It was ordered to pay the man and his wife $27 million in mesothelioma compensation.
In 2013, Phyllis Granville was awarded $1 million in mesothelioma compensation by a jury in Seattle for getting mesothelioma from secondary exposure. Her husband worked in floor tile installation and used many types of asbestos-containing tiles for years. He did not know it, but he brought home asbestos dust on his clothes that his wife washed. (Businesswire.com)
In 2011, Bobo was diagnosed with mesothelioma of the lungs. She was allegedly exposed to asbestos dust from her husband’s work clothes. Her husband worked at a nuclear plant in Alabama, where he was exposed to asbestos insulation for years. He died from asbestos lung cancer in 1997 and she died from asbestos cancer in 2013. Before she passed away, she filed a personal injury lawsuit against the Tennessee Valley Authority. The couple’s daughters were awarded $3.5 million in 2015.
Johnny Kesner and Lynn Haver
The California Supreme Court ruled in 2016 that corporations can be held liable for secondary asbestos exposure that happens at home. The ruling linked two personal injury lawsuits in the state.
The first was that of Johnny Kesner, who got peritoneal mesothelioma from secondary asbestos exposure. The other lawsuit was brought by the offspring of Lynn Haver. She got mesothelioma from washing her husband’s work clothes.
Obtaining Financial Compensation for Secondary Asbestos Exposure
A person who had secondary exposure to asbestos did not contract their illness because of direct asbestos contact. So people who got mesothelioma from secondary exposure will need to show more evidence to back their mesothelioma compensation claim. To prove this claim, the mesothelioma attorney will need:
- Work records of the loved one who suffered asbestos exposure at work.
- Medical records of the ill person that state that they have an asbestos-related disease.
- Military records, if applicable
- Social security records from Supplemental Security Income
Get Mesothelioma Legal Help
With over $30 billion available for victims through the Asbestos Trust Funds, you could be entitled to financial compensations without ever filing a lawsuit. Mesothelioma & Lung Cancer victims qualify immediately. Complete the form or call us toll-free (800) 352-0871.