For many reasons, victims of asbestos-related illnesses are often older workers who may already be retired. This is due to the fact that asbestos is not used as widely as it was decades ago, and it can take as long as 50 years to develop symptoms of the illnesses.
However, according to this CNN article, younger populations are still dying as a result of asbestos exposure. This is particularly troubling considering the significant efforts made over the last 30-plus years to prevent harmful exposure. Unfortunately, there are no clear answers as to why young people are still being exposed.
Even the author of a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says they are not sure why hundreds of people under the age of 44 are dying of illnesses like malignant mesothelioma.
It is possible that secondary exposure could explain this unfortunate trend, at least in part. Secondary exposure refers to the indirect exposure family members suffered if they lived with a loved one who was directly exposed to asbestos.
For example, imagine a father who works in construction and demolition. For years, he was coming home covered in the dust and dirt of his day. If he worked with asbestos and was not properly protected, which was not unusual even 20 years ago, he was tracking the fibers back to his home and family.
Young people in this environment could certainly be at risk for breathing in those harmful asbestos fibers, and over time, that exposure could lead to a devastating illness.
All of this is to say that you don’t need to be of retirement age to be diagnosed an asbestos-related illness, and you don’t even need to have ever worked directly with it to be at risk of exposure.
Further, remember that whether your exposure was direct or indirect, you can file a legal claim seeking compensation for damages if your exposure was caused by the recklessness or negligence of another party.