Secondhand exposure and mesothelioma

Perhaps you have never worked in a North Carolina shipyard, the construction industry, a factory or automotive mechanics shop, but one of your close family members (who resides in the same household) has. These industries, as well as home renovations, pipefitting, working in old buildings and numerous other jobs have high rates of asbestos exposure. If your loved one works in one of these industries, he or she may unknowingly place everyone else in your household at risk for mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma is a terminal illness, meaning there is no cure. It is one of the most common types of illnesses that result from exposure to asbestos. Since there is no known “safe” amount of exposure to the microscopic fibers, medical professionals have logically assumed that even a single exposure can cause health problems.

How does secondhand exposure occur?

If your loved one is a farmer, construction worker or employee in another industry where he or she becomes exposed to asbestos, the fibers (which are invisible to the naked eye) can cling to his or her skin, hair and clothing. Such fibers may easily become airborne, especially if your loved one is walking around the house before taking a shower or changing out of his or her work clothes.

If asbestos fibers become airborne, anyone in the vicinity may inhale or ingest them without realizing it. Mesothelioma might set in but remain hidden for years. Mesothelioma typically affects the lungs but can centralize in other areas of the body, as well.

The person affected might be 10 to 40 years older before symptoms arise

If you or your child experience secondhand asbestos exposure from a family member who has unknowingly brought the fibers into the home from the workplace, it may likely take a decade or longer before symptoms begin to show. Such symptoms often include a lingering cough, unexplained weight loss, fatigue and loss of appetite. You might also experience chest or abdominal pain.

It’s important to let your doctor know if you believe that secondhand exposure to asbestos has something to do with your symptoms. He or she can ask additional questions and run tests to diagnose or rule out mesothelioma.

Other types of secondary asbestos exposure

You don’t necessarily have to live in a household with someone who directly works in a high-risk asbestos area in order to undergo secondhand exposure. You yourself might wind up sharing work space that places you at risk. For instance, you might work as a plumber or in some other service capacity at a location where workers face direct asbestos exposure, thus placing you at risk for secondhand exposure.

Treatment for mesothelioma is palliative

In terms of treatment for mesothelioma, the best doctors can do is to provide recommendations and care to help alleviate pain and discomfort and to help you maintain the greatest quality of life as possible for as long as possible. Such care can be expensive because it might involve prescription drugs, in-home nursing care and other issues for which services or supplies cost money.

There have been many class action lawsuits regarding mesothelioma and secondhand asbestos exposure in North Carolina and beyond. This is a form or recourse provided under state law that enables mesothelioma patients to seek justice when their injuries have occurred through another party’s negligence.