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Author: Julie Glenn

Image of a sign warning of asbestos fiber danger, symbolizing the common question: What is direct asbestos exposure? and how the mesothelioma lawyers at Nemeroff Law Firm can answer that question and protect the rights of those afflicted with diseases caused by 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.)

Our Clients Ask: 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.

Image of a man lighting a cigarette, representing the often-asked question 'Does smoking cause mesothelioma?' and how the attorneys at Nemeroff Law Firm can answer that and other questions related to mesothelioma.

The link between smoking and lung cancer is so prevalent in our minds that it is easy to wonder: Does smoking cause mesothelioma? Some people think that it does, but that is not true. Read on to learn about the complex relationship between smoking and mesothelioma.

The Truth Behind this Question: Does Smoking Cause Mesothelioma?

The short answer is no.

The National Cancer Institute reports that smoking “combined with asbestos exposure does not appear to increase the risk of mesothelioma.”

Mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive cancer that forms predominantly in the lining of the lungs, but it can also appear in other locations, such as the lining of the abdomen or heart. The disease has only been proven to be caused by asbestos. While smoking can cause many detrimental health effects, no one has evidence at this time that smoking causes mesothelioma.

How Smoking May Impact Mesothelioma and Lung Cancer

Now that the answer to the question, “does smoking cause mesothelioma?” has been answered, we’re left to explore a more complicated question: How can smoking impact the development of mesothelioma or other lung disease?

Healthy lungs have cilia, tiny hair-like structures in the lining, to force impurities out. Smoking is associated with damage and shortening of cilia, making it harder for the lungs to remove threats like asbestos fibers. For this reason, if smokers are exposed to asbestos, their lung cancer risk increases substantially.

In addition, asbestos and tobacco smoking cause inflammation in the lungs, and inflammation can lead to cancer. The double exposure to inflammatory substances is troublesome, but smoking also weakens the body’s immune system, potentially worsening inflammation.

Most Important Take-Away About Smoking and Mesothelioma

Anyone who has worked in a high-risk job involving asbestos should maintain regular checkups because early detection is essential. Because smoking damages the lungs and their protective cilia, a smoker in a high-risk job should be especially proactive about checkups.

It is also important to be familiar with symptoms of the onset of mesothelioma and to not try to treat them at home. Many people confuse the symptoms of mesothelioma with other less serious conditions and wait too long for treatment. This cancer is very aggressive and is too often discovered when the disease is advanced and prognosis is grim.


Does smoking cause mesothelioma? No, but it does weaken the lungs and can contribute to lung problems, including lung cancer. Everyone who has worked in a high-risk job should be proactive about their health, and smokers are no different.

Smokers, in particular, must be especially watchful when it comes to lung diseases such as mesothelioma and lung cancer. It is crucial to have regular checkups and seek treatment for symptoms of mesothelioma as soon as they appear.

The bottom line is that asbestos can be harmful to everyone, including smokers. Just because a person smokes does not mean that he or she cannot be compensated for contracting mesothelioma.

When you have questions about asbestos exposure and your legal rights, contact the asbestos attorneys at the Nemeroff Law Firm. We’ve handled many cases for clients who were smokers and who developed mesothelioma. Contact us today for a free case consultation.