There are many instances where family members of persons who have been exposed to asbestos have also contracted mesothelioma. This is commonly referred to as “household exposure” or “take home exposure.” There are two other forms of exposure: direct exposure (see section entitled “Jobsite Exposure”) and bystander exposure (see “Bystander Exposure”).
Household exposure occurs where workers inadvertently take home asbestos fibers in or on their clothing, hair, equipment, and other objects. The fibers become airborne at home and are inhaled by spouses, children and other family members.
Household Exposure Is As Dangerous As Direct Occupational Exposure
One of the common “household exposure” cases involves housewives. Housewives were exposed when handling and washing their spouses’ work clothing and uniforms. Children were also exposed when they came into contact with their father before he changed out of his work clothes.
A typical shipyard worker could take home millions of asbestos fibers in his hair and clothing on a single day. The worker could have inadvertently exposed his family members for years. In those situations, spouses and children were exposed to significant amounts of asbestos. Ordinary housecleaning and laundering do not remove asbestos fibers from the household.
Studies Confirm the Seriousness of Household Exposures
Household exposure is just as serious as direct exposure. In 2002, the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health studied death certificates filed in 1999. It found that the second most common occupational exposure related to mesothelioma was “housewife/homemaker” and that females comprised 20% of mesothelioma deaths. Other studies have concluded that the amount of asbestos fibers resulting from household exposure is just as great as occupational exposure.
Victims of household exposure exhibit various symptoms or warning signs of asbestos disease. These often include conditions that are considered “minor” — fever, cough, and back pain. Symptoms may appear decades after the exposure occurs because the latency period for developing asbestos disease is decades long.
Family Members Should Preserve Their Legal Rights
Courts have recognized the rights of family members who have been exposed to asbestos. They have allowed spouses, children and other relatives to receive compensation for injuries resulting from their exposure. It is important that you preserve your legal rights if you have experienced household exposure to asbestos. If you suffer from an asbestos-related injury and have experienced household exposure to asbestos, please contact us so we can help
Legal Remedies for Household Exposure
Today there are federal regulations to ensure that asbestos and other hazardous materials are not brought home in this way. Employers are required to warn their workers about the hazards of asbestos on clothing. Some employers may be required to provide special areas where workers can shower and change their clothes before they leave work. In addition, people who work with asbestos and other hazardous materials may also be instructed to store their street clothes in a separate area of the workplace, or wash their work clothes at home separately from other clothes.
Galiher Law Firm Has Helped Family Members Who Contracted Mesothelioma
The Galiher Law Firm has represented family members who have contracted mesothelioma through household exposure. Courts in the United States recognize household exposure claims against the manufacturers of asbestos products. However, there are a number of jurisdictions that do not recognize a claim for a household exposure brought against a premise owner. For this reason, it is important to properly select the jurisdiction in which a household exposure claim should be filed. Based on our experience, the mesothelioma attorneys at Galiher Law Firm can help you with this important legal decision.