Second-Hand Asbestos Exposure: What Is it and What Are Your Rights?
Are you or a loved one victim to asbestos exposure?
Those who come in contact with asbestos, either directly or through second-hand asbestos exposure, are at considerable risk. Exposure can be dangerous and deadly for all involved.
The faster you act, the better.
Read on to learn more about dealing with asbestos exposure.
What is Asbestos?
Asbestos is mainly an insulator. It is also used in paper, cloth textiles, cement, plastics, and other materials to reinforce and strengthen their durability.
Asbestos is an amalgamation of naturally occurring minerals. These minerals have undergone a process of pushing and pulling to create a fluffy-like consistency of mineral fibers. These fibers are soft, flexible, and pliable, yet they are also resistant to heat, electricity, and chemical corrosion.
The History of Asbestos
The first asbestos companies were established in the late 1800s during the Industrial Revolution. They were made to insulate the steam engines and locomotive trains of the time.
North American mines were an abundant source of asbestos minerals. The asbestos industry developed in profitability alongside the growth of oil refineries and heavy-machinery manufacturing facilities. Asbestos quickly became a mainstay in the American building and construction industry, from family homes to factory plants.
Its rein in America met its demise in 1989 when the Environmental Protection Agency ruled it a dangerous substance. The last asbestos mine in the United States closed in 2002.
That said, many developing nations across the globe still operate mineral mines and use asbestos in their projects.
What are the Risks of Exposure?
Asbestos fibers are tiny, even microscopic. These fibers are the contributing factor to asbestos being the primary cause of occupational cancer in the world.
Asbestos fibers are inhaled through breathing and then accumulate in the tissue and the membrane lining of the lungs.
Asbestos causes benign illnesses that can make it difficult for patients to breathe, like asbestosis, pleuritis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Symptoms of asbestosis include:
- shortness of breath
- persistent dry cough
- chest tightness and pain
- loss of appetite
Worse, asbestos can lead to malignant diseases such as lung cancer like pleural mesothelioma and peritoneal mesothelioma.
What is Second-Hand Asbestos Exposure?
Those who handle asbestos directly are at primary risk for asbestos exposure. These include those who hold positions in jobs such as:
- asbestos manufacturing
- heavy-machinery manufacturing industry
- electricity generation
- military service
Second-hand exposure occurs to those individuals who have direct contact with those with direct exposure. These are spouses, children, pets, and other friends and family.
The fibers will cling to the exposed person’s skin, hair, and clothing. Decontaminating oneself of asbestos fibers is no simple task. A simple load of laundry will not cut it.
These fibers will, however, latch on to other clothing and textile. Hugging a person exposed to asbestos? Risk. Sharing furniture with that person? Another risk. Occupying the same breathing vicinity? Risky.
Decontamination for exposure exists, but it’s not foolproof. Basically, lest you throw away all exposed clothing and scrub the epidermal layer of your skin away, there’s always a risk.
Essentially, anyone with direct contact to asbestos becomes a carrier for the related diseases.
What is the Treatment for Exposure?
Prolonged exposure to asbestos in any way can lead to benign or malignant diseases.
The accumulated damage that asbestos fibers create can turn into asbestosis disease. This creates scarring on the lung tissue, making breathing a troubling task. It may be treated, but not cured.
Treatment seeks to ease the patient’s symptoms and to prevent any more medical complications. Patients have an increased risk of respiratory infections, often being prescribed a regiment of antibiotics. They are also advised to not smoke and to avoid large crowds where they are at higher risk of being exposed to such ailments.
Sometimes, patients require bronchial drainage. This may be done at home aided by an ultrasonic, mist humidifier to loosen bronchial secretions. In more extreme cases, respiratory therapists use physical therapy techniques on the chest to aid in expelling secretions by coughing.
Some patients experience shortness of breath; bronchodilators are an effective treatment. They are inhaled sprays or oral medications that widen the bronchial tubes to allow for the easier passage of air. In more severe cases, supplemental oxygen may be prescribed.
In any case, strict monitoring from your physician is recommended.
Unfortunately, patients with asbestosis disease have an increased chance of developing mesothelioma. This is an aggressive form of cancer affecting the membrane lining of the lungs. Like most forms of cancer, treatment must be equally aggressive.
Read more on treatment for lung cancer here.
What Other Options are There?
Medical treatment isn’t the only symptom you should be seeking to remedy.
There’s a lot of pain and suffering for all individuals involved in diseases related to asbestos exposure. Fortunately, our justice system may allow you compensation.
If you or a loved one has become ill because of secondary exposure, find experienced legal representation immediately. You have a right to fight for financial support for medical treatment related to asbestos exposure, and the pain and suffering it causes.
Please note, it is not as simple to determine liability in these cases as it is with direct asbestos exposure. People exposed on the job can often quickly identify which products led to their exposure.
Fortunately, more courts are siding with the plaintiff in recent cases of secondary exposure. Let’s take a look at cases across the United States.
Work Lawsuits Involving Asbestos Exposure
In 2014, the district courts of Alabama ruled for the family of Barbara Bobo. Her husband, Neil, was exposed to asbestos insulation at a nuclear plant owned by the Tennessee Valley Authority. Neil died from asbestos-related lung cancer in 1997, and Barbara died from mesothelioma in 2013. Before she died, Barbara filed an asbestos lawsuit against the owner of the nuclear plant. Barbara and Neil’s daughters were awarded 3.5$ million for their mother’s mesothelioma.
In 2016, the California Supreme Court ruled that companies are liable for second-hand asbestos exposure. The issue reached the California Supreme Court after conflicting, lower court rulings involving two similar cases.
The first case involved the family of Johnny Blaine Kesner, Jr., who passed away from peritoneal mesothelioma in 2014. Kesner lived a period of his life with an uncle who worked for a brake manufacturing plant, where asbestos products were used extensively.
The trial court ruled against Kesner’s family, but an appellate court overturned that ruling. It was then sent to the California Supreme Court.
The second case involved the family of Lynne Haver, who died of mesothelioma in 2009. Her former husband worked for Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway, where he was exposed to asbestos products.
The trial court ruled for the railway companies, and the appellate court upheld the decision. The case still advanced to the California Supreme Court, where it ruled in Haver’s favor.
In 2006, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that companies are liable to spouses of asbestos workers for illnesses caused by second-hand exposure.
In 2016, the court extended the duty of care beyond spouses. It would now include anyone who lived with an asbestos worker, such as children, domestic partners, and visitors.
In 2013, an Ohio district court ruled for the plaintiff, John Panza Jr. He was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2012 and sued directly after. For over 30 years, his father worked for a brake plant company where he had direct exposure to asbestos products.
The courts ordered the company to pay Panza and his wife 27.5$ million.
In 2013, the Seattle King County Court sided with the plaintiff, Phyllis Granville. She developed mesothelioma because of secondary exposure to asbestos. Her husband, Donald, worked as a floor tile installer. He worked with many asbestos tiles throughout his career, and she worked with his laundry.
Granville was awarded 1.1$ million for her pain and suffering.
Receive Consultation Now
The sooner you receive treatment, the better.
Benefit from every possible opportunity available to remedy all symptoms of you and your family’s sufferings with asbestos exposure.
This is not a battle you have to fight alone.
Contact us now for a free consultation on your second-hand asbestos exposure case.
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