While most people are aware of the link between asbestos exposure and mesothelioma, many don’t truly understand how widespread of a problem this actually is. For instance, not only are those who work around asbestos at risk, but their family members as well.
In fact, researchers in Italy recently published a study focusing on household asbestos exposure caused by family members who were themselves exposed to asbestos while at work — a phenomenon otherwise known as secondary asbestos exposure. Not surprisingly, this study concluded that “household exposure increases the risk for pleural mesothelioma amongst [household members] with no history of occupational asbestos exposure.”
Secondary Asbestos Exposure: The Persistent Killer
Sadly, workers in a wide variety of industries are routinely exposed to asbestos, including construction workers and auto mechanics, just to name a few. And, when these workers go home for the day, they risk bringing deadly asbestos fibers home with them.
Unfortunately, family members often have no idea that their loved one may have asbestos fibers trapped in their hair and clothing, which means household chores such as doing laundry, or simply being around this loved one, can lead to secondary asbestos exposure.
Details of the Recent Italian Study
The Italian study, which was conducted by researchers from the University of Trieste and published in the International Journal of Occupational Medicine and Environmental Health, examined 1063 mesothelioma cases diagnosed between 1995 and 2014.
Of these cases, they found 35 instances of mesothelioma caused by household (secondary) asbestos exposure, including 22 involving workers’ wives, nine involving workers’ daughters, two involving workers’ sons and two involving workers’ mothers.
While it took, on average, 59 years before family members began to show signs of mesothelioma, the wives examined during the study developed mesothelioma in a “significantly shorter” time than the sons and daughters.
Unfortunately, given the many years between exposure and the development of mesothelioma symptoms, the problems associated with secondary asbestos exposure will likely continue for decades to come.