Mesothelioma is an asbestos-related cancer affecting the protective lining that covers many of the body’s internal organs, including the lungs and abdomen. Mesothelioma most commonly occurs in men who worked with or around asbestos-containing products. These men may have worked in shipyards, automobile garages, or at construction sites where asbestos-containing products were prevalent throughout the 20th century. However, many women today are also being diagnosed with mesothelioma, which makes them wonder how in the world they could have been exposed to asbestos, as they have never worked with or around it. They were a homemaker or had a white collar job for their entire life, and now they are afflicted by a cancer that is uniquely associated with asbestos exposure. In this article, we will explore one source of such exposure and that is laundry.
For many decades, mothers, sisters, and wives have been responsible for various household chores including the laundry. The men of family came home from a hard day’s work covered in dust. They threw their clothes in the laundry and cleaned themselves up before dinner. Later on, the mother, sister, or wife pulled those clothes out of the laundry basket and washed them. Many times before the clothes went into the washing machine, whoever was doing the laundry shook the clothes out to get rid of the extra dust. Shaking out the clothes created a cloud of dust that lingered in the air. When the dust fell to the floor, it was eventually swept up, there again, stirring up dust. Handling the clothes, shaking them out, and cleaning up thereafter all created opportunities for airborne asbestos dust to be breathed in.
Both the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and the Centers for Disease Control have recognized that, “Most cases of asbestos disease among workers’ family members occurred in households where information indicated that asbestos-containing work clothing was brought into the home and women were exposed during home laundering of contaminated work clothing.”1 The health consequences of laundering asbestos contaminated clothing are most relevant to mesothelioma which “can result from very low levels of exposure.” Id.
The father, husband, or son could have worked at a job 20 years ago where he came into contact with asbestos dust. He could have worked there for years or as little as a few months. Regardless of the amount and duration of exposure, asbestos can cause mesothelioma in family members who fell victim of the so called “take-home” asbestos exposure.
The companies that utilized asbestos-containing products were able to protect the worker and his family. Unfortunately, not only did many of those companies knowingly disregard the health of the individuals who worked with their products, they also, in effect, disregarded the health of the workers’ family. Many companies never provided warnings about the dangers of asbestos or instituted preventative measures. Those companies knew that asbestos was dangerous and chose not to inform the individuals who handled their products about the dangers associated with asbestos. If they had done so, thousands of innocent lives could have been saved.
If someone told you that the dust you brought home on your clothing was going to make your family devastatingly ill, would you have ever worn those clothes home? The most probable answer is, not only would you have not endangered your family by doing so, but you would have also taken measures to protect yourself from the dreadful consequences of asbestos exposure.
Under the law of most states, pain and suffering from mesothelioma may be compensated through the award of money damages, usually obtained with the help of experienced mesothelioma attorneys. In some states other types of damages may also be recovered.
Asbestos litigation affords mesothelioma victims the opportunity to receive financial compensation and hold accountable the companies that caused their asbestos exposure.
- Preserve your rights to bring a legal action against the responsible parties within the limited time frame allowed by law, known as statute of limitations;
- Obtain maximum compensation in your case by being able to:
- Preserve evidence and establish facts of the asbestos exposure while the claimant is still alive and able to provide information;
- File and resolve a lawsuit against the responsible parties before they file for bankruptcy or, if they already have, to obtain compensation before their bankruptcy trust funds run out of money;
- Expedite your case, as courts tend to give higher priority to mesothelioma lawsuits where the claimant is still alive.
1 See Report to Congress on Workers’ Home Contamination Study Conducted Under the Workers’ Family Protection Act (29 U.S.C. 671a) at 7.