Though occupational asbestos exposure is the most common kind, people can come into contact with the deadly mineral in many other ways. It can line the buildings they live in, occur in natural ore deposits near their homes or even be brought home by their spouses or family members as dust, usually on clothing and in hair.
This is called paraoccupational asbestos exposure, and it happens more often than you might think.
At Kazan, McClain, Lyons, Greenwood and Harley, we’ve been involved in dozens of cases over the years that involved individuals whose health was ruined by paraoccupational exposure. In many of these cases, the asbestos brought home on clothes ultimately resulted in one or more people developing malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM).
Deadly dust has consequences decades later
Studies have shown that this form of exposure can radically increase the risk of asbestosis and MPM, even in young adults. To give you an idea of the toll paraoccupational exposure can take, here are some summary details on a pair of “take-home” asbestos cases that we have represented:
– Ronald Ricker. Living in Northern California in the 1960s and ’70s, Mr. Ricker was exposed to asbestos in two different ways. First, his mother, Clara, brought home fibers on her clothing, body and personal effects while working at Varian, Inc., a scientific instruments manufacturer. (Specifically, she worked with Rockbestos asbestos insulated wire products from 1966 to 1971.) Ronald also came into contact with the mineral during his own employment as a machinist at Varian, Inc. from 1969 to 1971. In October 2009, he was diagnosed with mesothelioma.
In his deposition, Mr. Ricker noted that his mother “always looked like she had been working, you know – she was a little bit dirtier and dustier [when she got home from work].”
When asked if she ever changed clothes after getting home, he said “not until after dinner, when she was taking a bath.” He and his mother had dinner together every day, a ritual that in all likelihood dramatically increased his amount of paraoccupational asbestos exposure.
– Jeanette Franklin. Our client, Ms. Franklin, was just a girl in the 1940s, when both of her parents worked at USX Corporation’s Western Pipe and Steel shipyard in South San Francisco. Her father worked as welder, while her mother acted as a carpenter’s assistant. Virtually every day, her parents unknowingly carried deadly asbestos fibers home on their clothing, exposing their young children to a deadly carcinogen. Because asbestos fibers work their way into pleural cells and lodge there, the mineral can take decades to cause MPM – and it did. In March 1999, Jeanette Franklin was diagnosed with mesothelioma.