Cancer Possible Without Any Other Exposure to Asbestos
Nineteen-year old David Coleman is dying of mesothelioma, a rare cancer caused by asbestos exposure. When David was an infant, his father Tony worked as an auto mechanic under dusty, dirty conditions. For years, Tony would arrive home each day wearing his work uniform, then hug and play with his young son.
David was exposed to asbestos from his father's work clothes, which were covered with asbestos dust derived from brake shoes. He has no other history of asbestos exposure. Recently, he sued auto manufacturers and brake suppliers, seeking to hold them responsible for his incurable illness. These companies were aware of the hazards that asbestos posed to workers and their families, but did nothing to prevent asbestos exposures, according to various court documents.
The sad story of the Colemans, reported recently in an Ohio newspaper (The Plain Dealer, November 3, 2002) provides an example of secondhand exposure to asbestos. It also highlights the dangers lurking in ordinary auto repair shops at a time when many older cars with asbestos brakes remain on our roads. (See Auto Mechanics Risk Asbestos Exposure for details about airborne asbestos and the lack of safety precautions in auto repair shops.)
Mesothelioma, asbestosis, asbestos lung cancer, and other asbestos-related diseases have long been associated with exposure to asbestos in the workplace, and most often with plumbers, pipefitters, electricians, insulators, boilermakers, and shipbuilders who worked directly with asbestos-containing products. Also, because asbestos-related diseases take decades to develop, many of today's asbestos victims are over 50 years of age.
Exposure risks do not always fall into such limited categories, however. Asbestos was once used in consumer products from toasters to hair dryers, and may become a hazard to those who repair these items. At companies that made asbestos products, administrative, support or maintenance staff, although never working directly with asbestos, may have been exposed to the substance. And as the Coleman case illustrates, children or spouses of workers exposed to asbestos may have come into contact with the substance by breathing in asbestos dust brought home on the workers' shoes or clothing.
At Brayton Purcell, we have seen several instances of secondhand asbestos exposure. Sadly, in over 25 years of litigating asbestos cases, we have found that asbestos disease occurs in individuals of different ages and from many walks of life.
If you have concerns about possible asbestos exposure, we recommend that you educate yourself about asbestos. A good place to start is by learning more about exposure risks and health issues. If you have any questions about your legal rights, please feel free tocontact us for information.