The aftermath of asbestos usage in the United States has left an often tragic and even devastating path of destruction for exposure victims. For close to 100 years, between the late 1800s and mid- to late-1900s, millions of people were unknowingly exposed to a toxic and potentially fatal material. Many were exposed at work, while others came into contact with asbestos in their own homes-either from building components used during construction or through a process called secondary exposure.
Life after asbestos goes on with no detectable consequences for many people. But for the small and unfortunate portion that develops an asbestos-linked illness-such as asbestosis, mesothelioma or other forms of cancer-life is never the same again. All of these chronic and pervasive conditions cause significant physical and emotional distress for the victim-and in the case of mesothelioma cancers, death.
There is much information available about asbestos, its consequences and options for legal recourses. To offer victims of asbestos an easy and straightforward guide that is designed to cover a myriad of topics-from veteran exposure and cutting-edge treatment options to choosing a legal representative and taking your personal injury case to court.
PART XIX: THE TWO-PRONG DANGER OF SHIPYARD ASBESTOS
Shipyard asbestos, which was likely responsible for more incidences of fatal illnesses, than any other type of occupation exposure, in fact carried a two prong risk-one of which most victims may not be aware, even today. Two types of dangerous asbestos exposure, which may have affected both workers and their families or other close loved ones, are outlined in the sections below.
The most common type of exposure to shipyard asbestos (as well as varieties of the carcinogen found in other high-risk occupational settings, such as construction sites and automotive repair shops) occurred directly and affected only navy or civilian workers who came into contact with asbestos-made materials. Exposure occurred when damaged materials broke apart or otherwise disintegrated, releasing tiny asbestos particles into the air. Once airborne, these microscopic fibers-appearing as a fine dust-could be inhaled or ingested by anyone in the nearby vicinity.
Another route by which innocent bystanders could come into contact with asbestos on navy ships occurred in a far less direct but still potentially dangerous manner. Individuals living with workers who had been directly exposed to shipyard asbestos faced the risk of breathing in toxic fibers hidden in the rather innocuous-looking dust that such workers often brought home on the surfaces of their hair, skin and/or clothing.
Called secondary exposure, this less common method of contact had the potential to occur anytime an asbestos-tainted individual got close to family members or other loved ones-such as when giving a hug or reading a goodnight story to children. Even those who did not directly touch the primary-exposed person could still inadvertently inhale or ingest toxic asbestos fibers-such as by sleeping in contaminated bedding or while washing polluted clothing.