Though most patients diagnosed with mesothelioma are men, that does not mean that it is a male disease. The reason that more men are diagnosed then women is a simple one: during the years that asbestos was most widely used, men made up the majority of workers in those industries that had the highest exposure levels. Women’s exposure to asbestos has come from different sources then men’s, and many women have been and continue to be diagnosed with this rare and fatal form of cancer.
Second-Hand Asbestos Exposure
Of all the ways that women are exposed to asbestos, the most common and perhaps most heartbreaking is through second-hand exposure. Because asbestos companies never acknowledged the dangers of exposure to the toxic material, they provided neither protective clothing nor on-site showers for their employees to rinse the dust off. When men who worked with or around asbestos came home each night, they unwittingly carried asbestos fibers into their homes on their work clothes, their hair or their skin. They embraced their children and wives and gave their clothing to their wives to launder. Without realizing it, they introduced the carcinogen into their living quarters and exposed their loved ones to risk. According to the National Institutes of Health, roughly half of women diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma were exposed as a result of having shaken out their husband or son’s work clothes and laundering them.
Most of the world’s asbestos-related diseases are a result of occupational exposure, and this took place in a number of different work settings. The industries that were most at risk include construction, steel plants, shipyards, and other applications that involve high heat environments. Though these were generally male-dominated environments, some women did work in those sites and were at risk of asbestos exposure. Additionally, many occupational environments dominated by women were built with asbestos-contaminated materials. These include school buildings, hospitals, churches, government buildings, and bakeries. Teachers, nurses, office workers and others have been diagnosed with mesothelioma and other asbestos-related disease as a result of worksite exposure to asbestos.
Not all asbestos exposure results from workplace environment. Asbestos is a naturally-occurring material that is found in high quantities in Pennsylvania California, Florida, New York and Texas, as well as many other areas throughout the United States and around the world. Though the Agency for Toxic Substance & Diseases Registry (ATSDR) has indicated that undisturbed, naturally-occurring asbestos poses no risk, once it has been disturbed it can be inhaled or ingested and can lead to asbestos-related diseases.
Women’s Mesothelioma Survival Rates
The prognosis for women who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma is slightly better than the prognosis for men. Though every case of mesothelioma is unique and impacted by issues such as cell type, type of mesothelioma, age at diagnosis and overall health, statistics show that women who undergo mesothelioma surgery tend to survive longer than men do. There is also evidence that women tend to have epitheloid mesothelioma more than the other, more aggressive types.
Proving Second-Hand Exposure in Court
When a woman is diagnosed with mesothelioma and believes that it was caused by second-hand exposure to asbestos brought home by a family member, their only option for compensation is generally to file a mesothelioma lawsuit. Though their spouse or family member may have been able to file on their own behalf for workers’ compensation if they got sick on the job, their family members are ineligible. Though there have been many documented cases of second-hand exposure, proving the facts of the case in court can be a challenge. For that reason, it is important that you seek assistance from an experienced mesothelioma law firm that has familiarity and depth of knowledge about asbestos-related diseases and the law.
People who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma may be eligible for compensation from the $30 billion asbestos trust funds, or to file a mesothelioma lawsuit against the asbestos companies that negligently exposed them to asbestos. If you or someone you love has an asbestos-related condition like mesothelioma, asbestosis, or asbestos lung cancer, contact our office today at 1-800-793-4540. We will put you in touch with one of our experienced mesothelioma attorneys or send you a free Financial Compensation Packet that will provide you with helpful information about the compensation that you may be eligible to receive