Workers in nearly every industrial occupation understand the hazards of dealing with toxic materials. From using the required personal protective equipment (PPE) to washing up after every shift, workers adopt the habits and best practices that have been designed to keep them safe. But is it enough?

Unfortunately not, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Occupational health has evolved with every new scientific technique and measurement method. Unfortunately, as our knowledge increases, so does our understanding of the hazards thought to be eradicated. While workers generally have a thorough understanding of the dangers of toxic exposure at the workplace, they might not have a clear picture of the hazards they are taking home from work.

Take-home exposure, secondary exposure or domestic exposure can occur when a worker unknowingly brings dangerous chemicals home. Asbestos fibers trapped in clothing, for example, can be transferred to a family member through a simple hug or to the rest of the occupants of the house through the clothes washing cycle. In this way, loved ones can be exposed to toxic chemicals having never set foot inside the factory.

Numerous materials can be central in take-home exposure, including:

  • Lead
  • Pesticides
  • Asbestos
  • Beryllium
  • Mercury

What can be done?

Awareness is the primary prevention method. By remembering how easy it is to bring toxic chemicals home from work, employees can avoid secondary exposure. Thoroughly washing any exposed skin and leaving any clothing at work to be washed rather than bringing it home is a good start. If you were exposed to toxic chemicals at work or you worry that a family member was a victim of secondary exposure, it is important to contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney at once.