The Truth About Secondhand Asbestos Exposure

Asbestos was once hailed as a "miracle material" for its light weight and resistance to heat and water. It was widely used in manufacturing and the construction of houses, ships, cars and other machinery. Yet in 2021, asbestos exposure is synonymous with mesothelioma and other deadly forms of cancer, not miracles or industry.

Why? Because asbestos exposure causes cancer. And, sadly, similar to how secondhand smoke from cigarettes can cause lung cancer, secondhand asbestos exposure also can cause asbestos-related diseases.

Myth: You Can’t Get Mesothelioma If You Haven’t Worked with Asbestos

There is no safe level of asbestos exposure. This includes secondhand exposure. It only takes one asbestos fiber being inhaled or ingested to potentially cause cancer or an asbestos-related disease such as mesothelioma.

How does secondhand exposure occur? Historically, men and women who worked with this material would often bring it home to their families after asbestos fibers clinged to their clothes or hair. Once home, fibers could be disturbed and become airborne, indirectly exposing loved ones to this dangerous carcinogen.

Women and children are at a higher risk of secondhand asbestos exposure if they lived with people who worked in high-risk occupations and brought home asbestos fibers on their clothes or in their hair.

Examples of high risk occupations include:
Construction workers
Shipyard workers

The jagged shape of asbestos fibers make it possible to get stuck between the threads of clothing. Unfortunately, modern washing machines are not equipped to wash clothes contaminated with asbestos. Even clothes washed in the same machine as clothes with asbestos fibers are still considered contaminated. This speaks volumes to the dangers of this material.

Asbestos exposure - whether direct or indirect - is the fault of no one other than manufacturers of asbestos-containing products. They were aware of the dangers of asbestos, but continued to promote the material despite the health risks.

Raise Awareness And Prevent Secondhand Exposure

To support the efforts of Global Asbestos Awareness Week 2021, we'll continue to release "fact vs. fiction" videos highlighting the common myths surrounding asbestos use each day. Follow along here on our blog as well as on our Facebook and Twitter accounts, and don’t forget to like, share, and comment to show your support for victims of asbestos-related disease. Remember to use the hashtag #2021GAAW and join us as we stand against asbestos.

Together, we can advocate for victims, spread awareness about the dangers of asbestos, and save lives.


Sokolove Law Team

Contributing Authors

The Sokolove Law Content Team is made up of writers, editors, and journalists. We work with case managers and attorneys to keep site information up to date and accurate. Our site has a wealth of resources available for victims of wrongdoing and their families.

Last modified: April 5, 2021