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Secondary asbestos exposure, also known as second-hand asbestos exposure, is when someone who works directly with asbestos or asbestos-contaminated material carries asbestos fibers home and exposes their household members to those fibers. When a worker brings home asbestos fibers, they put their loved ones at risk of developing asbestos-related illnesses such as mesothelioma and asbestosis. Secondary asbestos exposure is especially frequent among women and children, although men too can fall victim to this kind of asbestos exposure.

Before the dangerous effects of asbestos became known, and before strict regulations were passed, people working with asbestos often brought home asbestos fibers in their person. However, over the decades, cases of second-hand asbestos exposure have reduced. Because of this reduction, one might wonder why courts are seeing many secondary asbestos exposure lawsuits. One main reason is that doctors are getting better at diagnosing asbestos-related diseases, such as mesothelioma. Years ago, if an individual without obvious asbestos exposure exhibited mesothelioma-like symptoms, they would have most likely been overlooked. However, today, because of the advancement in science and medicine, medical professionals are able to figure out if indeed a person without any obvious asbestos exposure is suffering from mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma Has a Long Latency Period

Mesothelioma, just like other forms of cancer, is not contagious. Touching, sharing meals, or even breathing the same air cannot spread mesothelioma. Generally, cancer cells from a cancer patient cannot live in the body of a healthy person because the immune system usually destroys foreign cells, including cancer cells from a cancer patient.

How Does a Person Get Mesothelioma?

Asbestos exposure is still the only known cause of mesothelioma. According to the American Cancer Society, about eight out of 10 people with mesothelioma have been exposed to asbestos. Asbestos is a highly toxic substance that was commonly used before the 1980s, especially in construction, because of its durability and heat-resistant properties. When asbestos is disturbed, asbestos fibers get released into the air. If a person inhales asbestos fibers, the fibers can get into the lungs. When asbestos fibers get into the lungs, they can travel to the pleural lining of the lung and chest wall. Over time, asbestos fibers that reach the pleura can cause inflammation and scarring and cause mesothelioma.

Most juries spend weeks hearing evidence about how a victim developed mesothelioma and debating whether negligence played a part in the victim developing the disease. However, unlike most juries who disagree on evidence and whether negligence was involved, the Wisconsin jury in a recently decided mesothelioma case disagreed on the amount of compensation to be awarded to the victim’s family. While in the end, the jury members agreed that Pabst should pay the victim’s family more than $26 million, two of the jury members disagreed, arguing that the company should be made to pay much more.

The family of the mesothelioma victim, a grandfather who worked at Pabst Blue Ribbon’s Milwaukee Brewery, initiated the lawsuit. During his time at Pabst, the mesothelioma victim was exposed to asbestos. Pabst Blue Ribbon’s Milwaukee Brewery employed the mesothelioma victim in the 1970s. It was during those years that the dangers of asbestos and its role in mesothelioma became well known. But, despite Pabst knowing the dangers of asbestos and its role in mesothelioma, the company did not take any steps to protect its workers. Pabst even let its workers get exposed to asbestos in the lunchroom. Pabst’s lunchroom was equipped with asbestos-contaminated pipes from which asbestos fell.

Initially, the family accused Pabst Blue Ribbon’s Milwaukee Brewery and Wisconsin Electric (another of the victim’s former employers) of failing to provide its workers with a safe working environment. After the original claim was filed, Wisconsin Electric decided to settle the case outside the court. On the other hand, Pabst insisted on going to court. The company argued against its own responsibility, which angered the jury.

Usually, asbestos-related illnesses such as mesothelioma take years to appear. For this reason, mesothelioma is not common in children. Mesothelioma is much more common in older people with a history of asbestos exposure. However, since mesothelioma takes years before developing, children exposed to asbestos at a young age risk developing mesothelioma in their adult years.

So, how do children get exposed to asbestos? There are many ways in which a child can be exposed to asbestos. Below is a look at some of the most common ways children can be exposed to asbestos.

Secondhand Asbestos Exposure

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