We commonly think of asbestos and mesothelioma in relation to high-risk occupations such as construction and industrial manufacturing. Unfortunately, asbestos is such a toxic mineral that any amount of exposure can lead to mesothelioma or lung cancer. And because mesothelioma can take decades to develop, people are often surprised by a diagnosis and may not even initially remember when or where they were exposed.
Asbestos exposure occurs outside of occupational hazards
The majority of people who develop mesothelioma are men. This is because men primarily performed the blue-collar work that led to direct exposure to asbestos dust, particularly in the 20th century. Men continue to be three to four times as likely to develop the disease as women.
But that is not to say women are not at risk of mesothelioma. Many women have been exposed to asbestos dust through environmental factors, including in their homes or in towns near asbestos mines. Of course, women are also exposed to asbestos through work, as well.
Secondary exposure in the home
Asbestos fibers are small and easily cling to clothes, hair and shoes. People who were exposed to asbestos dust through their work often brought asbestos dust home on their clothes. The risk of mesothelioma is particularly acute for people who washed contaminated clothes.
Many women have also developed mesothelioma from asbestos dust in the air. Towns near asbestos mines see high levels of mesothelioma and lung cancer. In some cases, incorrect asbestos removal also leads to environmental risk. This can happen in workplaces, schools and other places where there was a failure to take proper precaution when removing asbestos.
Legal options for secondary exposure
People secondarily exposed to asbestos also have legal options. However, it does sometimes require an extra step of showing how and where the asbestos exposure occurred. People who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma caused by secondhand exposure should learn about their legal rights and options regarding financial compensation.