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Occupational and Para-occupational Secondary Exposure to Asbestos

Occupational and Para-occupational Secondary Exposure to Asbestos

Could you have been exposed to dangerous levels of asbestos? Maybe, if you.

  • Worked in the asbestos industry
  • Lived with workers exposed to asbestos
  • Lived in a community near an asbestos mine or manufacturing plant
  • Decided to renovate your older home
  • You attended a public school

Asbestos exposure comes from more para-occupational sources than the average person would ever suspect. If you are not sure how you were exposed to asbestos, Brown | Gould | Kiely, LLP has experience in identifying the sources of both occupational and para-occupational exposure.

Occupational exposure to asbestos has been recognized since the 1890s with more aggressive accountability measures put in place in the 1920s and 30s. But recognition of para-occupational, or secondary exposure to asbestos, was long delayed. You can read more about occupational exposure to asbestos on our Workers Exposed to Asbestos page. Para-occupational exposure sites include:

Contact with Asbestos Workers

Family members who came in direct contact with asbestos workers or their clothing have been exposed to a dangerous degree. Many have developed an asbestos-related disease with no other known exposure to asbestos.

Schools

One source of para-occupational asbestos exposure is from older public school buildings. A Government Accounting Office (GAO) report RCED-85-91 (1985) provides evidence that government and school officials knew of problems with asbestos during the 1970s, but chose to ignore these facts due to the cost of repairs.

By the 1990s, another GAO report (GAO HEHS 95-61, 10) estimated 15 million children were attending 30,000 schools that posed the risk of exposure.

Older buildings do not pose a risk simply because they were constructed using asbestos. The danger is from damaged structures (i.e., a hole in the wall, frayed insulation around pipes) that expose asbestos fibers and allow them to become airborne. Such damage can start by simply hammering a nail into the wall to hang a picture.

Communities

Many towns have been abandoned because the asbestos contamination in the community is so severe it isn’t safe to live in them. The W.R.Grace vermiculite mine in Libby, Montana was contaminated with so much asbestos that mining the vermiculite released a dangerous amount of asbestos fibers. These fibers became airborne and rained out over Libby, contaminating all of the residents. In many communities asbestos processing plants exposed nearby residents similarly.

Asbestos Use in Homes

Prior to 1980 asbestos was used extensively to build homes. Today, many people are renovating and “flipping” older homes either to obtain affordable housing or to make money on the resale. Many do not know about the risks of asbestos exposure, nor do they know how to contain the materials and renovate safely.

Older Products

Asbestos fire-retardant properties made it a natural choice for many older products. Pot holders, toasters, hair dryers, electric blankets and some products manufactured before the 1990s contain asbestos, which can pose an exposure risk as the product deteriorates. Even cosmetics and talcum powder used to contain asbestos.

Whether you have been exposed through occupational or para-occupational contact with asbestos, please contact Brown | Gould | Kiely, LLP, in Baltimore, Maryland and Washington, D.C. for more information and a confidential, no-cost consultation.

Learn more about Brown | Gould | Kiely, LLP.