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Secondhand Asbestos Exposure

Even if you have never set foot in a location where asbestos-containing products were used, you could still be at risk for developing mesothelioma. Why? Secondhand exposure to asbestos has been directly linked to a number of mesothelioma diagnoses.

Were You Exposed?

For decades, millions of people worked around asbestos without knowing the dangers of exposure. Whether they served in the military or worked in any of the dozens of civilian industries where asbestos-containing products were common, just doing their jobs could lead to the development of mesothelioma many years later. How? When asbestos-containing products wear down or become damaged, tiny fibers can be released into the air, where they may be inhaled or land on a persons’ clothing in the form of dust. And that dust could be carried home, or anywhere else—potentially exposing many more people to deadly asbestos fibers.

Experts estimate that 27.5 million workers were exposed to asbestos between 1940 and 1979. If you or a family member served in the armed forces or worked in any of the industries listed below, your chances of developing mesothelioma could be increased.

High Risk Occupations for Asbestos Exposure:

Common Locations for Secondhand Exposure

From brake pads to insulation to protective gear such as gloves, for many workers, asbestos-containing products could show up almost anywhere. Working with or around these products was often dirty, dusty work. Unfortunately that dust, and the danger it posed, didn’t always stay at the job site. Here are some locations where family members and friends could have been unknowingly exposed to asbestos:

  • In the Laundry Room —Anyone washing clothes that were covered in asbestos dust could have inhaled that dust. Just imagine the possible extent of that exposure caused by doing only a load or 2 of laundry every week.
  • In the Kids’ Bedrooms —Tucking in the children for the night before removing asbestos-contaminated clothing and showering could have easily exposed those kids to asbestos fibers.
  • In the Front Hallway —Asbestos fibers may have also stuck in a worker’s hair, on skin, or on his or her clothing. So it’s not hard to imagine how secondhand exposure could have taken place just by hugging your dad, mom, or husband when he or she returned home after a long day at work.
  • In the Living Room —Do you always remember to take off your work clothes before sitting down to watch a little TV or to read the paper? For folks who worked in many industries, work clothes could have released dust that contained asbestos fibers onto living room furniture and carpeting—potentially exposing anyone who entered the living room to asbestos.