Reported cases of mesothelioma and other lung diseases associated with asbestos exposure continue to climb. One reason for this might be the fact that there can be a 40 year gap between exposure and visible symptoms. Because asbestos was commonly used until about 20 years ago, many people are now beginning to be diagnosed with fatal diseases. Some of these victims may have been kids at the time of exposure and may be considered part of the “third wave” of sufferers.
One article suggests that there are three general groups of people who end up suffering from serious diseases caused by the toxic fiber. Sadly, the third group may be the youngest group of victims.
In what has been called the first wave of victims are the people who worked directly in mines and handled the asbestos in its raw form. Because the dangers of exposure were not yet known, early victims may have had no protection whatsoever at work. Often, they left the jobsite covered in asbestos dust.
The second wave of victims consists of the workers who handled materials containing asbestos. People such as construction workers, carpenters, roofers, and even members of the Navy have had especially high levels of exposure to these materials. Despite the fact that we now know the dangers associated with handling asbestos, it still exists in older materials, so this second wave of victims continues to be exposed.
Finally, the third wave of victims consists of those who likely never worked with asbestos and are referred to as “bystanders.” These victims either lived or worked in places where asbestos was present, but they may have been completely unaware of it. In other instances, these victims are those who washed asbestos-covered clothes or snuggled up with their father when he returned from a day of working in the mines. These victims can be quite young, too, since exposure happened at a young age.
Asbestos exposure can have a far-reaching effect on people. A miner who handled asbestos directly may not develop mesothelioma, but a person working with the products made from that material may. Even the miner’s wife may end up developing the disease. The danger of this toxic product continues to evolve and victims continue to suffer.
Source: Great Lakes Advocate, “Asbestos now affecting third wave of victims,” Stephanie Gardiner, March 30, 2012