What are you looking for?

8 March 2024 | Comment | Article by Phoebe Osborne

Asbestos litigation and women: Unveiling the hidden dangers on International Women’s Day 2024

On International Women’s Day we feel it’s imperative to shed light on an issue often overlooked in asbestos litigation; its disproportionate impact on women diagnosed with the disease. Additionally, delving into the US talc angle further reveals the complex interplay of gender, health, and justice in the legal landscape where our Asbestos team assists patients to bring civil legal claims in the UK and the USA.

In the United Kingdom, asbestos-related diseases have long been associated with male-dominated industries such as construction and shipbuilding. However, Mesothelioma UK funded research highlights a concerning trend; an increase in the number of women being exposed to asbestos, often through secondary exposure from family members who worked in these hazardous environments. More often they don’t know where they encountered asbestos, making claims investigations more challenging.

Women can be frequently exposed to asbestos fibres through laundering contaminated work clothes for their families, living in asbestos-contaminated homes, or working in industries traditionally considered “safe” for women, like teaching or healthcare. Despite their indirect exposure, women face similar risks of developing asbestos-related diseases, including mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis.

The legal battle for justice in asbestos cases presents unique challenges for women. Historically, asbestos litigation has favoured male claimants, with compensation calculations often overlooking the distinct impact on women’s lives, careers, and caregiving responsibilities. As International Women’s Day underscores the importance of gender equality, it is crucial to ensure equitable representation and recognition of women’s experiences in asbestos litigation.

Furthermore, the US talc angle adds another layer to the discussion. Talc, a common ingredient in cosmetic products, has been linked to mesothelioma when contaminated with asbestos. Recent lawsuits in the US for our clients have highlighted the failure of manufacturers to adequately warn consumers, predominantly women, about the potential risks associated with using talc-based products.

The convergence of asbestos litigation and talc controversies underscores the urgent need for comprehensive regulations, public awareness campaigns, and corporate accountability measures to protect women’s health and rights. International Women’s Day serves as a poignant reminder to legal teams and patient support groups to advocate for justice, transparency, and equality in addressing the multifaceted challenges faced by women affected by asbestos exposure.

As we commemorate International Women’s Day in 2024, let us renew our commitment to amplifying the voices of women impacted by asbestos-related diseases, advocating for legislative reforms, and striving for a future where all women are safeguarded from preventable harm and discrimination in the pursuit of justice and equality. Of particular note, our asbestos teams will continue to campaign and lobby the UK Government and insurance industry to widen the scope of the Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme (DMPS) which is unavailable to secondary victims of mesothelioma, the majority of whom are women who have historically laundered their loved one’s asbestos dust laden clothing, a disparity which unfairly affects women.

Phoebe Osborne, Senior Associate comments:

“Having supported many women affected by secondary exposure to asbestos and noting the psychological impact of a mesothelioma diagnosis on their whole family, it is extremely poignant to raise the issue of parity and inclusion of women in the DMPS scheme which is not fit for purpose. Collectively we must continue to challenge the legislators given the increasing number of women exposed to asbestos through work or home given asbestos was only banned in the UK in 1999 and degrading asbestos remains present in many homes and buildings today.”

We understand that our clients contact us during a difficult time, we are here to help, and make the process as easy and stress free as possible. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact our asbestos team.

Author bio

Phoebe Osborne

Legal Director

Phoebe joined Hugh James in March 2021 and is a Legal Director in the specialist Asbestos team. Phoebe has acted solely for Claimants in asbestos disease litigation since qualifying as a solicitor in 2013. Since then, she has successfully obtained compensation for a significant number of patients following their diagnoses of mesothelioma, asbestosis, pleural thickening and lung cancer.

Disclaimer: The information on the Hugh James website is for general information only and reflects the position at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such. If you would like to ensure the commentary reflects current legislation, case law or best practice, please contact the blog author.


Next steps

We’re here to get things moving. Drop a message to one of our experts and we’ll get straight back to you.

Call us: 033 3016 2222

Message us