Exposure to hazardous and toxic chemicals has the potential to impact the health of every system in the body. Toxic exposure has been found to cause short-term and chronic health issues. While most chemical exposure accidents occur in the workplace, those living close to factories and refineries have reported suffering health consequences as well. O.S.H.A. estimates that as many as 32 million workers are regularly exposed to one or more hazardous chemicals. OSHA further suggests that 190,000 illnesses and 50,000 deaths are attributable to workplace chemical exposure.
Defining Toxic and Hazardous Chemicals
Chemical toxicity refers to the capacity of a substance to cause damage or harm to the body. A chemical’s level of toxicity is dependent on the extent it is absorbed by the body, chemical structure of the product, and the body’s ability to detoxify the matter. The hazard of a chemical is defined as the likelihood the substance will cause harm.
Chemical Exposure High-risk Industries
Maintaining a safe work environment is the responsibility of every employer, including reducing the risk of exposure to toxic and hazardous chemicals. If an employer fails to follow safety guidelines, preventing chemical exposure, they needlessly expose workers to serious injury and possibly death.
Dangerous chemicals are used in an array of occupations, a few of the most at-risk occupations include:
- Petrochemical plants
- Oil and gas extraction
- Hazardous waste sites
- Construction sites
- Industrial plants
- Insecticide industry
- Heavy machinery operators
- Chemical labs
How Chemical Exposure Happens
Dangerous chemicals can enter the body in the following ways:
Absorption – direct contact with eyes or skin
Inhalation – contaminated air is inhaled directly into the nose, mouth or lungs
Ingestion – contaminated hands, drinks, foods, or cigarettes
Injection – contaminated objects such as glass, metal, or syringe puncture skin.
After a toxic chemical enters the body, it travels through the bloodstream causing damage to internal organs. Entry route notwithstanding – the greater the amount and toxicity of the substance that enters the body, the greater the damage it produces.
Common Chemical Exposure Injuries
Exposure to hazardous chemicals can result in an array of adverse health consequences depending on the type of chemical, length of exposure, how it entered the body and the amount of the substance you were in contact with.
Chemical exposure effects can be acute or chronic. Short-term acute health effects are usually immediately apparent, range in severity, and can reverse after exposure to the chemical ends. Long-term chronic health effects typically result from continual exposure to harmful chemicals over time. Chronic chemical exposure symptoms are usually permanent.
Chemical exposure injuries can include:
- Nose or throat irritation
- Skin infections or rashes
- Blood disorders
- Heart failure
- Birth defects
- Vision loss
- Neurological damage
- Liver damage
- Kidney damage
Most Common Chemical Exposure
Chemical exposure includes dust, vapors, fumes, mists, gasses, solids, liquids, vapors, and fibers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports the 5 most common chemical exposure substances were:
- Carbon monoxide
- Hydrochloric acid
- Sulfuric acid
Additional hazardous and toxic chemicals associated with occupational illness and injury include:
- Benzene exposure
- Mercury exposure
- Asbestos exposure
- Pesticides exposure
- Lead exposure
- Paint exposure
- Solvent exposure
- Silica exposure
Lundy LLP’s team of attorneys is dedicated to helping victims of chemical exposure gain the compensation they need and deserve for their injuries, allowing our clients to focus on their recovery and rebuilding their lives. Call to speak with one of our experienced toxic and hazardous chemical exposure attorneys in Lake Charles, Louisiana.
Compensation for injuries can include:
Loss of earning capacity (past and future)