What Is Second-Hand Asbestos Exposure?

Second-hand asbestos exposure can occur when an individual unknowingly carries asbestos fibers home from their workplace or another location where they were exposed to asbestos. Similar to primary or direct asbestos exposure, it can take many years for mesothelioma, lung cancer, a throat or digestive tract cancer, or another asbestos-related injury to develop from secondary exposure.

Who Is Most at Risk of Secondary Asbestos Exposure?

Individuals most at risk of second-hand asbestos exposure are typically women and children. Prior to the implementation of stringent restrictions around asbestos in the 1970s, workers frequently carried asbestos fibers on their skin, hair, clothing, and equipment from their workplace. Subsequently, they would bring asbestos into their homes, and their wives, children, and others in the household would become exposed.

insulation worker

While secondary exposure is not as common as it was several decades ago, it can still occur if employees exposed to asbestos on the job don’t take the proper steps to rid themselves of the toxic fibers before returning home. Today, workers in hazardous environments are typically required to change into clean clothing or shower before returning home to prevent exposing their families to asbestos.

Is Second-Hand Asbestos Exposure Less Dangerous Than Primary Asbestos Exposure?

Second-hand asbestos exposure is no less dangerous than primary exposure. If any individual is exposed to asbestos either directly or indirectly, especially repeatedly and over long periods of time, serious and fatal diseases often develop. 

Secondary Asbestos Exposure Related Diseases

Secondary asbestos exposure can lead to the same severe injuries as primary asbestos exposure. These diseases include: 

  • Mesothelioma
  • Asbestos lung cancer
  • Asbestosis 
  • Pleural plaques, pleural thickening and pleural effusion
  • Digestive tract cancers – stomach cancer, colon cancer, rectal cancer
  • Throat cancers – laryngeal, pharyngeal, and oropharyngeal cancer
  • Ovarian cancer

Common Sources of Second-Hand Asbestos Exposure

Secondary Asbestos Exposure From Clothing

The primary source of second-hand asbestos exposure is contaminated work clothes that an individual wore at the time of direct exposure. Asbestos particles feature a unique jagged structure that enables them to easily embed into clothing. Second-hand asbestos exposure can occur if anyone touches or handles contaminated clothing, and often occurred when clothes were shaken out and washed, or when an individual continued to work in and around the home before removing their work clothes.

Secondary Asbestos Exposure From Cars

Those who work with asbestos often commute from their workplace by car, during which time asbestos fibers that are on their clothing can rub off onto the seats of their car. If a worker is wearing gloves that have come into contact with asbestos or the toxic substance is on their skin, it can also contaminate the steering wheel and other areas that the driver may touch while operating the car, even settling in the seat and floor fabric of the car, exposing anyone who then subsequently drives that vehicle. 

Secondary Asbestos Exposure From Furniture

Workers who carry asbestos dust on their skin or clothing can also contaminate furniture in the home. From couches and carpeting to bedding and chairs, furniture in the house can become polluted with asbestos if exposed workers come into contact with them.

Can you Wash Asbestos Out of Clothing?

It is not easy to remove asbestos from garments, as attempting to wash clothing soiled with asbestos often results in exposure. Conventional washing machines are not designed to remove asbestos. In fact, asbestos fibers can become airborne when washing contaminated clothing, which can then transfer to other garments in the washing machine.

Direct Physical Contact

Any contact between clothing or skin contaminated with asbestos and other objects or people can result in asbestos exposure. For example, workers may return home with asbestos on their work clothes and hug a spouse or child in greeting, or a child may sit on their lap, or they may hold one of their children, all of which can result in secondary asbestos exposure. 

Secondary Asbestos Exposure Lawsuits

Can I File a Lawsuit if I Was Exposed to Asbestos Second-Hand?

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with an asbestos-related injury such as mesothelioma, lung cancer, a throat or digestive tract cancer, or another asbestos-related injury resulting from secondary exposure to asbestos, you may be eligible to file a lawsuit and receive compensation. 

Those who directly worked with asbestos can often easily pinpoint the source of original exposure, which is most often the job site at which they worked. Identifying the cause of asbestos exposure in a secondary exposure lawsuit, however, can be a much more challenging task if the individual who caused them to become exposed is no longer living. Due to the complex nature of secondary asbestos lawsuits, working with a leading asbestos injury attorney is integral to bringing a successful lawsuit.

To be connected with an expert asbestos legal team call 833-716-0087 or fill out the form below.

Who Can Be Held Liable in Second-Hand Asbestos Lawsuits?

The company responsible for the asbestos exposure of the individual who subsequently exposed their family member to asbestos second-hand, can be held liable for the secondary asbestos related injury. To successfully hold a company liable in a second-hand asbestos lawsuit, claimants must be able to trace the source of asbestos exposure back to a defendant whose negligence resulted in the exposure of the primary exposed individual. 

Damages in Secondary Asbestos Lawsuits

With the help of a specialized asbestos lawyer, victims of secondary exposure may be able to recover damages for their asbestos-related injury. Some of the damages that the injured can recover include:

  • Past and future medical costs
  • Lost wages
  • Travel costs associated with treatment
  • Home care costs 
  • Pain and suffering

Finding the Best Secondary Asbestos Exposure Attorney

Environmental Litigation Group

The key to a successful secondary asbestos exposure lawsuit is to work with experienced and skilled asbestos attorneys. Environmental Litigation Group P.C. has over 25 years of experience in handling asbestos exposure injury claims and have recovered $1.4 billion for their clients. ELG provides premier legal representation for victims of both primary and secondary asbestos exposure. The legal team at ELG is highly adept at navigating this complex area of law and utilizes their expertise and knowledge to trace exposure back to negligent parties and to obtain the maximum financial compensation for your case.

The Law Center

The Law Center is committed to providing victims of negligence with the legal representation they need to recover the maximum damages for their injuries. To get started on a secondary asbestos exposure lawsuit today, contact us by calling 833-716-0087 or fill out the form below to schedule a free consultation, and we’ll connect you with our partnering leading asbestos attorneys.