What is secondary exposure? Examples include the “deadly hug” and washing clothes:
Asbestos and the “Deadly Hug”
A husband comes home from work after working around asbestos. He is wearing his work clothes that have thousands or millions of invisible asbestos fibers on them. His children greet him at the door. They hug their dad. Some of the fibers are now transferred to the children’s clothes and skin. They may inhale or ingest some of these fibers. Now the kids have secondary exposure to asbestos through the “deadly hug.” There have been many cases of children like these who are diagnosed with mesothelioma years later because of their parent’s work.
Washing Clothes and Asbestos Fibers
This same husband now changes out of his dirty work clothes and throws them into the hamper. The next day these clothes are washed by his wife. She shakes the clothes before putting them in the washing machine. Countless asbestos fibers are released in the air. The wife, unknowingly, breathes in these fibers. Now she has secondary exposure. There have been many cases of women who were diagnosed with mesothelioma simply because they washed the clothes in their family.
Loved Ones Not to Blame
In cases of secondary exposure like these, the person who brought home the asbestos fibers (the husband and father in our example) feels very much to blame. But, it is important to remember that they are not to blame. During the period of time when asbestos fibers were being brought home, workers were not warned about asbestos. No father or mother would risk their family’s health if they knew there was a danger. The simple fact was that the asbestos industry did not take the steps and the precautions needed to protect the loved ones of the people who worked directly with asbestos containing products. If there is any blame, it rests squarely with the asbestos industry who kept this vital importation under wraps.