Indirect Asbestos Exposure From Washing Husband’s Clothes Leads to Woman’s Mesothelioma Diagnosis and Death

At-Home Exposure To Asbestos Dust By A Family Member Of The Worker Directly Exposed To Asbestos Can Be Deadly

 

A March 23, 2012 article from The Citizen, “Wife died after washing asbestos off husband’s clothes”, reports the death of a 78-year-old woman, Jean Beard, who was exposed to asbestos indirectly decades ago, when she washed the dust off of her husband’s work clothes. The Gloucester Coroner determined that Jean died from malignant mesothelioma, an asbestos-related disease.

Jean’s husband, Dennis, worked at Gloucester Railway Carriage and Wagon Works, which was known as an “asbestos hot-spot” in Gloucester. While washing her husband’s clothes, Jean would frequently shake out the asbestos-filled overalls before washing them. Dennis died in February 1991.

In April 2010 Jean was diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma. On December 9, 2011 she died even after undergoing radiotherapy and chemotherapy and Gloucestershire Royal Hospital. The post mortem examination said that Jean died from the malignant mesothelioma.

The deputy coroner of Gloucesteshire, David Dooley, stated that there was “clear evidence of a link between asbestos exposure and Mrs. Beard’s death.” The exposure, however, was not due to her employment, but to her husband’s employment.  As such, this is a classic example of indirect exposure to asbestos in the household by a family member.

The factory that Dennis worked at in Gloucester has had a lengthy death toll of men who worked there, and at least three women have died from from secondary exposure to asbestos due to washing their husband’s clothing .

  • One example of a wife dying from secondary asbestos exposure is Florence Harris, who was diagnosed with broncho-pneumonia caused by malignant mesothelioma from indirect asbestos exposure from washing her husband’s clothes by hand in a tub. Florence died from this disease on July 29, 2004.  Her husband had worded at Gloucester Railway Carriage and Wagon Works, too.
  • Another example of this indirect asbestos exposure situation is Maureen Gardiner, who died from mesothelioma on Christmas Day of 2007. Her husband was directly exposed to asbestos where he worked from 1955 to 1967. Maureen often washed her husband’s asbestos-covered work clothes during those years.
  • Beryl Neal, whose second husband worked in demolition and was exposed to asbestos, died from mesothelioma. She, too, frequently washed her husband’s clothes which were covered in asbestos dust.  Yet one more instance of indirect, or secondhand, exposure to asbestos at home.

The four women above who died from mesothelioma were not working with asbestos directly.  Rather, it was their at-home indirect exposure to asbestos by a family member of the worker directly exposed to asbestos that proved to be fatal.

Even though the events in this article did not take place in North Carolina, second-hand asbestos exposure and subsequent tragedies — such as asbestos-related deaths of Jean, Florence, Maureen, and Beryl, describe above — can happen anywhere.

Often times it can be determined how the asbestos exposure during childhood happened and, in turn, an asbestos lawsuit for legal compensation can be filed on behalf of the mesothelioma victim or his surviving family.


 

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