Global Asbestos Awareness Week
Could I be at Risk from Indirect Asbestos Exposure?Today marks the start of Global Asbestos Awareness week, whilst outlawed back in the late 1990's it still carries a clear and present danger.
You may believe that because you don't deal with asbestos directly, you won't be at risk from the dangers of asbestos exposure. This is not the case, even workers who don't directly handle asbestos are still at risk. A recent study by The American Journal of Industrial Medicine has found that even indirect exposure to asbestos can cause serious harm.
Anyone Can be at Risk
You don’t need direct contact asbestos to be exposed to harm, therefore many can be at risk.
The US study found that sheet metal workers who don't handle asbestos directly are seven times more likely
than the general population to die from mesothelioma. This is because sheet metal installation can involve drilling the metal into something containing asbestos.
A recent article by The Telegraph has shown that even hospitals can be 'riddled'
with asbestos. They reported how an NHS consultant anaesthetist died from mesothelioma after using the tunnels in the hospital he trained at, as asbestos may have been used in the walls.
Indirect exposure to asbestos can even be a threat to family members, as asbestos fibers can be brought home on the clothing of people who have been exposed to it.
Emma Costin, our Director of Complex Personal Injury based in Bristol
, explains;"Primary exposure to asbestos can happen when someone directly deals with asbestos. Secondary exposure is the expression we use when somebody who has never worked with asbestos is exposed to asbestos indirectly for example a wife shaking out and washing her husband’s overalls and inhaling asbestos fibers as she does so.""Other examples are slight or transient environmental exposure that may occur when children play in building sites containing asbestos waste or perhaps near to asbestos factories. Even a child hugging their father when he comes home from work wearing his dusty overalls can be at risk."
Emma continues, "Asbestos fibers are tiny and can become airborne and transfer very easily, which is why indirect exposure is still causing serious harm to workers and family members."
What If I Have Been Exposed?
Asbestos fibers are breathed in and can settle on the lungs, this can eventually cause scarring and lead to other serious illnesses.
Mesothelioma is a cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. NHS figures show over 2,500 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma every year in the UK.
Because of the gap of around 20 to 60 years between exposure and symptoms showing, it is expected that more and more people will die from mesothelioma. Experts suggest that by 2050, 90,000 people will have died from mesothelioma. Mesothelioma has no cure and is often diagnosed at a late stage when it is difficult to manage, this is why following diagnosis the average person only survives for around another 12-18 months. There is worldwide research into treatments for combatting mesothelioma and other hard to treat cancers, however as yet the only real treatment is aggressive chemotherapy or drastic surgery.Other conditions related to asbestos exposure include: