Challenges of proving secondary exposure to asbestos

Asbestos has long been known to be harmful to a person’s health. The characteristics of asbestos make it a particularly toxic substance because of how easily a person can be exposed and how much damage the fibers can do inside a person’s body when inhaled.

Another reason why asbestos is so dangerous is that the damage it causes may not be identifiable for 10, 20 or even 40 years after exposure, making it difficult to diagnose and treat effectively. This can be especially true for victims who may never have been directly exposed to asbestos. Because they may never have handled asbestos or worked in environments where asbestos dust clouded the air, victims of secondary asbestos exposure may have no reason to suspect that the fiber could be the cause of their medical conditions.

In an article on our website, we took an in-depth look at secondary asbestos exposure and how it affects women in particular. In that article, which can be found here, we note that secondary exposure was a very real risk up through the mid-20th century when men often worked and women stayed home to care for the family. This secondary exposure was typically the result of a man tracking asbestos from work back into the home, where a woman would clean it off the floor or the man’s clothes and breathe in the fibers.

The existence of secondary exposure is undeniable. However, the challenge of proving that a person is the victim of it can be even more difficult than proving direct exposure. In many cases, workers can identify a specific product, environment or document that supports their claim that they worked regularly with a dangerous product.

For secondary exposure, however, there is the step of proving the direct source of exposure but then there is also the step of establishing the extended reach of that direct cause.

This can prove to be a legally complex process, but one that is not uncommon. Eight percent of mesothelioma cases involve female victims, and many of them are the result of secondary exposure. If you believe you or a loved one may be the victim of secondary asbestos exposure, it can be crucial to seek medical care and legal support to better understand your options.