The results of a recent retrospective study on female mesothelioma patients could have real implications for residents of some Pennsylvania communities. As home to several retired asbestos mines and various industries that present a heightened risk of exposure, the state has faced its share of asbestos-related public health issues. Unfortunately, as the study reveals, the consequences of asbestos exposure aren’t limited to those in direct contact with the substance.

While mesothelioma isn’t always attributable to asbestos exposure, it’s recognized as a leading cause of the disease. The study of mesothelioma patients found that most participants, who were all women diagnosed with the disease, had regular exposure to asbestos in the household through a family member. The data also indicated a noticeable gap in age of diagnosis between women exposed through a parent versus a spouse.

The retrospective analysis of mesothelioma patients found strong evidence of symptoms related to second-hand exposure. Children and wives of people exposed to asbestos in the workplace can be exposed by the material carried in on shoes, clothing and other items. Even when due to limited or second-hand exposure, mesothelioma is still a terminal illness for many patients.

This information gives the medical community a broader perspective when assessing the impact of asbestos on entire households and could have important legal implications for those who have been exposed. Individuals who have developed mesothelioma without direct contact now have stronger ground for a case of wrongful exposure. While it’s hard to say how this news will impact individual cases, it can give some mesothelioma victims a foundation to better understand the cause and nature of their illness.