Children and the risk of asbestos exposure

Readers of this blog should already know that asbestos can be dangerous for any person who is exposed to it. There are some groups of people who may be more likely to be exposed; but no one is immune to the illnesses that are caused by asbestos.

Sadly, this means that even children can be at risk of developing an asbestos-related illness. In fact, a study out of the UK suggests that the younger a person is when he or she is exposed to asbestos, the greater the chances are that he or she will develop mesothelioma.

The reasoning behind this finding has less to do with a child’s physical development and more to do with time. Simply put, a child exposed to asbestos at a young age has more years during which he or she may be diagnosed with an asbestos-related illness when compared to someone exposed as an adult.

Illnesses caused by asbestos can lay dormant for decades before people start experiencing symptoms of a disease. Therefore, the study projects that a 5-year-old child is five times more likely to develop mesothelioma than a person who is exposed to asbestos for the first time at the age of 30.

Children can be exposed to asbestos in a variety of ways and they do not always know when something is dangerous. They may play around construction sites or attend a school where asbestos has been used in floor tiles; some kids like to explore and crawl through parts of old buildings and end up tracking potentially toxic dust home with them. Kids can be exposed to asbestos in places that adults don’t or can’t go and generally never realize that they could be in danger.

What all this means is that many adults diagnosed with mesothelioma may have difficulty remembering when and where asbestos exposure may have happened when they were a child. Those who are exposed as adults may have an easier time remembering relevant information about where they were working and what was going on at a particular time.

However, none of this should suggest that it is impossible to identify the source of exposure. It may simply require more work and a better understanding of common sources of asbestos to pull up pieces of information that can help paint a more complete picture. Consulting an attorney can be a good place to start.