The number of men diagnosed with mesothelioma far outweighs the number of women. Far from being caused by any biological differences, this is in fact due to the industries that exposed the majority of workers to dangerous levels of asbestos: construction, mechanics, and even American soldiers. During the mid-twentieth century, most of these jobs were still held by men, which puts men more at risk for mesothelioma.
It’s true that more and more women began working in many of these fields during the 1940s and 1950s and were therefore exposed to asbestos on the job. Other women, however, faced exposure from secondary contact through their husbands, fathers, and brothers.
This means that even if you’ve never worked in asbestos-filled environments, you may still be at risk for developing mesothelioma, a cancer often caused by exposure to asbestos.
Secondary Exposure Scenarios
When manufacturers and construction companies first discovered asbestos, they began using it widely for its insulating and fire-resistant properties in everything from insulation to car tires.
Unfortunately, this meant workers on assembly lines, deep in mines, and years later on demolition crews were all exposed to harmful levels of asbestos through first-hand exposure to the fibers. What’s worse, these airborne fibers settled on workers’ clothes and bodies, traveling with them from work to home, where they could also enter the airways of their loved ones as well.
Asbestos at Home
Women who lived in homes with a relative who worked directly with asbestos may have been exposed to asbestos from the moment they walked in the door. Housewives, for example, may have greeted their husbands before they had a chance to remove their jackets or coats, which may have been contaminated with asbestos.
If not from direct contact with the worker, women who did household chores like laundry or dusting would also stir up any asbestos fibers caught in the worker’s clothing or in his favorite chair in the living room.
Finally, a few women diagnosed with mesothelioma recall hugging or sitting with their father when they were young children, sometimes before he cleaned up after a day at work.
Though these encounters seem fleeting and negligible, consider that the fact that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration stated that there is no safe level of asbestos exposure; any exposure to the fibers can be harmful to a person’s health.
In addition, other research has concluded that even secondary exposure can reach the same levels as those in manufacturing settings.
Any Difference in Disease for Secondary Exposure?
Women and families exposed to asbestos secondarily are at risk of contracting the same kinds of mesothelioma as workers who were directly exposed to the chemical.
Some labs and hospitals report high numbers of women seeking treatment for malignant pleural mesothelioma who were not “occupationally exposed,” which means they didn’t work directly with asbestos for their job.
Women who were secondarily exposed faced the same disease as the smaller percentage of women who were exposed on the job in the mid-twentieth century. This means that the source of asbestos likely doesn’t matter — only its destination and damage.
Seek Financial Compensation with an Indiana Mesothelioma Attorney
Whether you worked with asbestos-containing compounds for much of your career or were exposed to the fibers when you were young, your risk for mesothelioma may be similar. Contracting this cancer can impede your ability to work and earn a livable wage, and those who exposed you to asbestos may be responsible for paying for your treatment.
Contact a mesothelioma lawyer at Hensley Legal Group for a free conversation about your options. We’ll let you know whether you can earn money through a lawsuit and whether you may also be eligible to receive Social Security disability insurance for your disease. Give us a call or contact us online today.