Secondhand asbestos exposure can occur when an individual encounters asbestos fibers through the clothing or equipment of someone who has been working with asbestos-containing materials. This is also known as Bystander Exposure.
Asbestos could be found throughout steel mills which included blast furnaces, coke ovens, basic oxygen furnaces, strip mills, and the open-hearth department. Heat and fire-resistant protective clothing, pipe flanges, valves, pumps, and certain cloths/blankets all contained asbestos as well. Steel workers’ friends and family are at risk of secondhand asbestos exposure because asbestos fibers attach to worker’s clothing, shoes, work tool, hair, etc., allowing the carcinogen to be brought home, contaminating entire households. As a result, many family members and loved ones were exposed to asbestos fibers daily.
Studies have shown that even low levels of asbestos exposure can be harmful, and that secondhand asbestos exposure can be just as dangerous as direct exposure. When inhaled, asbestos fibers may become lodged in the lungs and cause a variety of health problems, including lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis.
According to the American Cancer Society, secondhand asbestos exposure can occur in a variety of ways, including living with someone who works with asbestos, handling or washing the clothing of someone who works with asbestos, or working in a building where asbestos fibers are present.
One study published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine found that the wives of steel workers were at a higher risk of developing mesothelioma than the general population due to their husbands’ occupational exposure to asbestos. The study also found that the risk of mesothelioma increased with the length of time that the steel worker had been exposed to asbestos. Another study published in the Annals of Occupational Hygiene found that the risk of mesothelioma among steel workers increased with the amount of asbestos exposure they had experienced, regardless of whether the exposure was direct or indirect.
In addition to the health risks associated with secondhand asbestos exposure, steel workers who have been exposed to asbestos may also experience financial difficulties as a result of their illness. Many steel workers who have developed asbestos-related diseases are unable to work and may face high medical bills, which can place a significant burden on their families.
There are steps that steel workers can take to protect their loved ones from secondhand asbestos exposure. These include wearing personal protective equipment such as respirators and disposable coveralls, showering and changing clothes before leaving the workplace, and following proper safety procedures when handling asbestos-containing materials.
Secondhand asbestos exposure is a serious concern for steel workers and their loved ones. It is important for steel companies to be aware of the dangers of asbestos and to take all appropriate precautions to protect their employees and their loved ones. If these steps are not taken, steel companies should be held liable for their actions. If you or a loved one has been exposed to secondhand asbestos and are experiencing symptoms, contact us today. A member of our team will get back to you as soon as possible to review your case.
Article first appeared on gpwlaw.com/news.