Our Clients Ask: What Is Direct Asbestos Exposure?
Direct exposure to asbestos means you have made contact with asbestos itself or with material that contains asbestos, one of six different naturally occurring minerals. This contact has allowed you to inhale or ingest asbestos fibers. (Indirect exposure to asbestos would be like “secondhand” smoke—you were not involved in the smoking but inhaled the smoke particles from someone else’s use.)
What Is Direct Asbestos Exposure?
If you worked in a job that involved mining asbestos minerals, ship building, involved the manufacturing products using asbestos, or constructing products and equipment using asbestos, then your worksite exposed you directly to asbestos fibers. According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), roughly 27 million workers were exposed to asbestos between 1940 and 1979. These years were prior to more stringent workplace safety standards.
Do You Have a History of Asbestos Exposure?
Direct asbestos exposure presents a significant risk to your health. In making a mesothelioma or other asbestos-related diagnosis, medical personnel will ask about your history of asbestos exposure. Depending on their familiarity with asbestos-related illnesses, your health care providers may not be thorough in trying to determine these things:
- Are you, or were you, in an occupation that brought you in direct contact with asbestos?
- How long you were exposed to the asbestos?
- What was the intensity of the asbestos exposure?
- Have you been exposed to asbestos in more than one setting at different periods of time?
- Did you experience a short-term exposure to asbestos that was very intense?
- Were you exposed to asbestos as a child?
- Do you or have you lived near sites where asbestos-containing products were manufactured?
The answers to these questions help doctors confirm that diagnosing an asbestos-related illness is correct. If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestosis related ailment, your attorney will use this history to identify those sources that made you sick and determine what type of compensation you should receive and from whom.
Direct Asbestos Exposure Since 1979
You can come into direct contact with asbestos in the environment, but most encounters with asbestos are through job worksites such as manufacturing or handling products made using asbestos. Changes to asbestos exposure came about through government regulations, public awareness, and lawsuits after it became clear that asbestos exposure led to terrible illness.
While the number of workers in direct exposure occupations has been significantly reduced, there is still a small percentage of the workforce in jobs where the recommended level of asbestos exposure is exceeded.
OSHA estimates that there are 1.3 million people in jobs that expose them to asbestos. Firefighters were found to have a higher incidence of mesothelioma than the average U.S. population in a 2013 study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). This is believed to be related to their exposure to asbestos while on the job. Other current occupations that may expose a worker to asbestos include these:
- Repair work to equipment and products containing asbestos
- Renovation to old homes, buildings, and equipment
- Removal and abatement of asbestos
- Maintenance of sites and equipment containing asbestos
If present day employers and workers follow standards and safety practices, exposure to the asbestos should remain below toxic levels, and asbestos-related illnesses should decline.
Asbestos-related cancer is avoidable, and companies should be held accountable to their workforce and to society for providing an unsafe work environment.
If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease because of direct asbestos exposure, Nemeroff Law Firm can help you tackle the difficult task of getting compensation for what is a preventable, life-altering illness.
Nemeroff Law’s national asbestos attorneys are well-respected trial lawyers with decades of experience in asbestos-related cases. Contact us at 866.342.1929 or by email to learn how we can take some of the burden off of you.