Secondhand asbestos exposure is very dangerous. Typically, secondhand asbestos exposure occurs when workers inadvertently bring asbestos fibers into their homes, exposing their wives and children to the toxic mineral. Secondhand asbestos exposure can cause severe and fatal diseases, such as:

  • mesothelioma (a rare cancer that affects the lining surrounding the lungs)
  • asbestosis (a lung disease caused by lung tissue scarring)
  • lung cancer
  • esophageal, stomach, colon, or rectum cancer

How Secondhand Asbestos Exposure Occurs?

Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous mineral that was extensively used in building insulation and consumer products until the late 1970s. When inhaled, asbestos fibers remain lodged in the body and can cause serious inflammation and scarring.

Many workers have been exposed to asbestos in the workplace, especially in the construction, manufacturing, and mining industries. In those industries, workers continuously handled materials containing asbestos, which caused toxic asbestos fibers to be released into the air. Because workplaces were poorly ventilated and asbestos fibers remained airborne for long periods of time, airborne asbestos fibers clung to workers’ clothes. Secondhand asbestos exposure would then occur when workers brought their asbestos-contaminated clothing home.

Families of workers that were exposed to asbestos were especially vulnerable to secondhand asbestos exposure. For example, family members may have experienced secondhand asbestos exposure while embracing workers who were still wearing asbestos laden clothing. Additionally, workers’ families may have encountered secondhand asbestos exposure when laundering asbestos-covered clothing. In fact, many family members shook asbestos-covered clothing before washing it, causing asbestos fibers to become airborne where they could be inhaled.

OSHA Regulations to Prevent Secondhand Asbestos Exposure     

The U.S. Occupational and Safety Health Administration (OSHA) passed regulations to protect women and children from secondhand asbestos exposure. To prevent secondhand asbestos exposure, OSHA requires employers to provide their asbestos exposed workers with:

  • Protective Clothing: employers must provide workers with special clothing when they handle asbestos containing materials
  • Changing Room Lockers: exposed workers must be given a clean changing room with two lockers: one for asbestos clothing and one for clean street clothes
  • Showers: employers must provide workers with showers to wash off lingering asbestos fibers

Injured by Secondhand Asbestos Exposure?

If you or a loved one has been injured by secondhand asbestos exposure, please contact us today as you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries.

Published November 17, 2011 by