Secondary Asbestos Exposure: What You Need to Know
Do you work with asbestos?
While most workers manage to remain safe while working with asbestos, one small misstep can put them at risk. Often, what they experience are the effects of primary asbestos exposure. In fact, more than 127 million suffer from exposure to asbestos.
Ever since then, more strict regulation became enacted to help reduce these cases. However, while the workers remained safe, little did they know they’re putting their family in danger. This is because they carry enough asbestos in their work gear to expose them to its effects.
This is what people call secondary exposure. Prolonged exposure to even tiny specks of asbestos can result in the same effects that primary exposure gives. This means you’re putting your family at risk of their effects.
Find out more about secondary exposure by reading the guide we’ve prepared below.
How Does Secondary Exposure Happen?
There are a lot of ways someone can get exposed to asbestos. Most of the time, people think they can get exposed from the asbestos in homes of their friends or their own.
The truth is, exposure through this is unlikely to happen. This is because residential houses all go through inspection before they’re approved. These inspections include checking for molds, the integrity of the foundation, and whether they’ve sealed the asbestos in the proper way.
Instead, secondary exposure happens through the least likely of ways.
Exposure in Work
Getting exposed at work doesn’t mean that you’re in direct contact with asbestos. Sometimes, all it takes is for you to work in a high exposure industry.
Most of the time, this happens because of your co-workers. Them working with asbestos may leave enough traces on them to expose you to its effects when interacting with you. You may also receive some exposure from your working equipment.
This happens most for construction and shipyard workers. While safety procedures are always done before handling asbestos, being close enough to gloves, tools, and masks exposed to asbestos can be enough to warrant secondary exposure.
Miners are also at risk of secondary exposure. Some mining facilities deal with blockages all the time. Sometimes, these blockages are due to asbestos rocks. What most mining companies do is blow them up on the spot.
In doing this, they release asbestos particles that can cling to the worker’s equipment. This is how they can become exposed even after their work shift.
Handling Contaminated Laundry
For those concerned about exposing their families, this is the most likely culprit. Asbestos fibers are sharp and can cling to clothing with ease. This makes them hard to remove unless by specialized means.
This also makes them a big threat to those who live with you. Them handling your contaminated clothes for a while may not do anything at first, but as we know by now, secondary exposure becomes more potent as time goes by.
Asbestos particles can also transfer from your clothes to furniture. This makes it all the more dangerous for your family. Asbestos particles can embed themselves into any furniture you have at your home.
Anyone who comes into contact with contaminated furniture next will risk carrying the particles around. This will prolong their exposure to the toxic material. As a result, they may feel the effects faster than other household members.
Furniture isn’t the only thing asbestos particles can pass on to. You put your entire family in immediate danger when you come home from work. The simple act of hugging them can pass on any stray particles of asbestos to them.
In fact, anyone you have physical contact with is at risk of getting exposed to asbestos. Anybody touching your skin, clothes, or even your hair can acquire the particles. This is one people can file a mesothelioma lawsuit against you.
This can also increase the chances of getting sick through secondary exposure. Not being able to remove all the asbestos particles on you can expose you to the effects that asbestos brings.
Some everyday objects carry small amounts of asbestos. Most of these contaminations come from older furniture and appliances. This is because people weren’t aware of how toxic asbestos was before.
Sometimes, other people use asbestos on appliances because it’s a cheaper alternative. The common objects people do this on is electronic appliances like microwaves. You can get exposed if you try to disassemble them or if their wiring becomes frayed.
Other asbestos-carrying objects can put your children at risk. There have been reports of baby powder small traces of asbestos. This is also true for some powdered cosmetic products.
This is because these products often contain talc. Talc may sometimes carry small traces of asbestos. While there are no cases of asbestos from talc to cause any form of cancer, it’s better not to find out.
Some things that children tend to make use of with frequency may also carry asbestos. For example, certain brands of crayons carry some asbestos. This makes them dangerous for toddlers who inhale their dust by accident.
Lingering in Contaminated Areas
Contaminated areas aren’t only limited to where people work with asbestos. Often, people get secondary exposure from public areas like gardens or parks. The most probable cause for parks is people doing heavy-duty work there.
Sometimes, when workers improve on or add something to a park, they use asbestos for electrical insulation. If this is the case, there may be some traces of asbestos left in the air. Inhaling the contaminated air is a surefire way of getting poisoned by asbestos.
Some areas are the ones you least expect, like gardens. This will only happen when you or gardeners use certain fertilizers containing asbestos. Using it once will grant no negative effect, but continuous use may be the cause of illnesses.
What are the Risks of Secondary Asbestos Exposure?
Prolonged secondary exposure can result in the same effects as primary exposure. Unlike primary exposure though, it can happen quicker than usual. This is because they don’t have the equipment that workers have to stave off the effects of asbestos.
Exposure to asbestos over time can lead to many illnesses, but 2 of them are more notable than the rest.
Inhaling lots of asbestos fibers over a long period of time can cause asbestosis. This is a chronic lung disease that can be mild or severe. In most cases, they only experience mild asbestosis.
The reason for this is because they only inhaled a small amount of asbestos. Symptoms that appear in mild cases are shortness of breath and appetite loss. Most of the time, people overcome mild asbestosis with the help of therapy.
People with severe cases of asbestosis experience harsher symptoms. Along with the ones mentioned above, they also experience things like chest pains. This is often accompanied by a dry, persistent cough.
They may also notice some physical deformities that may alarm them. For example, they may find their fingertips may appear clubbed. This takes a long time to form up, so if you notice it starts to deform, go to your doctor.
Medical facilities can scan your lungs via x-ray or CT scans to see if you have asbestosis. Asbestos particles tend to light up against these tests, making it easy to diagnose.
Severe cases may need to have surgery done on them to alleviate their illness. Lung transplants are often what medical practitioners resort to if asbestosis remains unchecked.
It’s well known that asbestos causes cancer of different kinds. The worst kind you may get from inhaling asbestos is mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is a kind of cancer that targets the mesothelium.
The mesothelium acts like a protective membrane for our body’s internal organs. Mesothelioma causes it to damage the organs it’s supposed to protect. It can also cause the infected mesothelium cells to break off and infect other parts of the body.
Mesothelioma may happen when someone inhales or ingests an amount of asbestos. Though people also blame other chemicals that causes mesothelioma. Zeolites are minerals that share the same chemical compound as asbestos.
Regardless of how you got exposed, the symptoms of mesothelioma should start appearing. You may start to notice that you get some abdominal pains accompanied by swelling. This will increase in pain as the mesothelioma gets worse.
You may also start to notice that you have some trouble clotting wounds. Similar to diabetes, mesothelioma will make it difficult to stop any form of bleeding. Fevers are also frequent when you have this kind of cancer.
Major mesothelioma symptoms like anemia take years to become noticeable. So, if you spot any of the small symptoms like bowel obstructions or weight loss, check with your doctor as soon as possible. They may be early signs of secondary exposure.
If you want, you can try to find out how you got exposed to asbestos. Once you find out, you can hire a mesothelioma lawyer to help you with compensation.
Know How You Can Bring Asbestos Home to Prevent Making the Same Mistakes
Secondary asbestos exposure is no laughing matter. It can devastate your family’s health and you may not even know it’s happening. Learn about secondary exposure to prevent this from happening to your family now!
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