Everyone from Construction Workers to Preschoolers can Become Seriously Ill Due to Exposure to Toxic Substances.
The subject of chemical exposure brings to mind images of laboratory accidents or factory malfunctions, and those incidents do occur. Still, the risk of chemical exposure exists all around us in the form of pesticides, mold, air pollution, and carbon monoxide.
Harm Caused by Daily or Prolonged Chemical Exposure
We come into contact with chemicals every day. The foods we eat have preservatives, flavorings, and colors which are chemicals. The soap and shampoo we bathe with contain chemicals. You cannot live a normal, day-to-day existence without coming in contact with chemicals. The problem arises when you are exposed to harmful chemicals in amounts that make you sick. You can breathe them in, absorb them through your skin, or consume them accidentally.
Everyone reacts to chemical exposures differently. Some may be exposed to a chemical without noticing and have no reaction whatsoever, while others who are more sensitive may have a life-threatening reaction. Sometimes, an adverse reaction occurs when you are exposed to chemicals for an extended period.
Your reaction to chemical exposure could also depend on the kind of chemical it is, the quantity of the chemical to which you were exposed, the frequency with which you were exposed to it, and whether it was aspirated, ingested, punctured, or absorbed into your body. Many people are unaware that their overall health can also play a role in their reaction to chemical exposure.
Top Ways You may be Exposed to Harmful Chemicals
Air pollution causes hazardous chemical exposure to everyone it touches. Especially when the exposure is prolonged. Indoor air pollution usually presents itself in the form of mold, dust, carbon monoxide, damp areas with mildew, and dust mites that can be embedded in carpets, fabrics, and canvas. Wood stoves, fireplaces, and air conditioners that aren’t cleaned regularly can cause air pollution at work or home. Outdoor pollution from industrial areas, cars, trucks, and buses are all typical sources. Smoking is another form of air pollution that is certainly worse indoors but can affect those in close proximity to the smoker outdoors.
When Legionella bacteria enters the lungs, it can cause a type of pneumonia called Legionnaires’ disease. This bacterium grows in standing water and can be inhaled if you are close to a hot tub, oversized air conditioners, or hot water tanks that haven’t been adequately maintained.
Lead poisoning is hard to identify because a large amount must be ingested before symptoms manifest. Lead can be found in contaminated soil, water, paint, cosmetics, toys, plastics, toy jewelry, and flaking old paint in buildings constructed before 1975. Children are at high risk for lead poisoning, especially when they are in the oral stage and put everything in their mouths. Lead paint chips have a sweet taste, and children could ingest them.
Groundwater contamination is one of the most dangerous sources of chemical exposure. Sources include leaking oil and gas from underground storage tanks found at filling stations, leaking septic systems, pesticides and fertilizers, oil spills, and illegal industrial waste disposal.
Molds are another contaminant that can cause adverse reactions, especially in small children, the elderly, or anyone who is immunocompromised. Mold reproduces by releasing spores into the air. Respiration of those spores can irritate the respiratory system. Black mold is a much more toxic form of mold that is difficult to combat due to its resistant nature.
Body Damage and Associated Injuries from Exposure to Chemicals
The respiratory system is susceptible to chemical exposure. Its function is to supply the blood with oxygen and remove carbon dioxide. Lung cancer, asthma, emphysema, pneumonia, bronchitis, and decreased oxygen levels are some health problems associated with chemical exposure.
The renal system regulates the amount of salts and water in the body and acts as a filter. It is sensitive to chemical exposure through ingestion. Adverse effects of chemical exposure include renal cancer, decreased blood flow to the kidneys, overall kidney failure, and other renal diseases.
The cardiovascular system moves nutrients and gasses through the body. This system also protects you from diseases and infections through white blood cells. Exposure to chemicals can cause heart failure, arrhythmia, and circulatory problems.
Besides producing egg and sperm cells, the reproductive system produces hormones to keep you healthy. If you are pregnant, exposure to some chemicals can cause congenital disabilities, miscarriages, and stillborn babies. Other chemicals can cause infertility in men and women.
The nervous system is the control center of our bodies, transmitting messages at lightning speed for all voluntary and involuntary functions. Health problems after exposure to harming agents include motion loss of extremities, numbness, affected speech, sensory decline, and coordination.
The immune system is one of our greatest protections if we are exposed to harmful chemicals. Those who are immunocompromised unfortunately suffer more severe consequences when exposed to chemicals. Allergies, a slowing down of the immune system, or autoimmunity can all occur.
The hepatic system makes proteins that purify our bodies of chemicals and store nutrients as it breaks down food. Liver damage, liver failure, and liver cancer can all occur in response to exposure to chemicals.
Frequent Workplace Accidents and Injuries Due to Chemical Exposure
Several reasons your employer may be negligently exposing you to dangerous chemicals. Inadequate ventilation, poor air conditioning and heating unit maintenance, insufficient training to handle chemicals, poor protective equipment or gas-measuring monitors such as carbon monoxide alarms, poor storage, or defective containers can cause accidents. Remember, exposure to chemicals over the long term can be just as dangerous as one catastrophic event.
The five most common chemicals that cause injury in the workplace are chlorine, sulfuric acid, ammonia, chlorine, and hydrochloric acid. According to the CDC, accidents include insufficient training to properly handle chemicals, insufficient exposure screening, and improper storage.
Typical injuries are burns, respiratory damage, severe allergic reactions, chest pain, nausea, vomiting, and dizziness. More serious injuries involve temporary or permanent disabilities such as partial blindness, vital organ damage, or severe burns.
Common Home Incidents and Injuries Caused by Chemicals
Aerosol cans used for paint, deodorant, insect repellant, hair spray, furniture polish, and cleaning products can explode if exposed to high temperatures. Still, eye injuries are most frequent through user error. Pesticides used to eliminate vermin, such as mice or rats, can be especially harmful if ingested by children. Antifreeze is another significant danger for children. Its bright color and sweet taste make it a real hazard. Flammable products such as kerosene, propane tanks, lighter fluid, and gasoline pose respiratory risks and burns. Batteries pose a danger as well. Techno gadgets use small, button-like batteries which children can mistake for candy. These batteries can burn through esophageal tissue, stomach tissue, or the intestinal wall if swallowed.
What Compensation are You Entitled to for a Chemical Exposure Injury?
There are three kinds of claims which often arise from chemical injuries. Which type of claim you file depends on who is responsible for causing or failing to prevent your injuries due to chemical exposure.
If Your Workplace is Responsible for Chemical Exposure Injuries
The first is a workers’ compensation claim. If you are injured due to chemical exposure in an accident that could have been prevented, you can apply for benefits from workers’ compensation. Moreover, you and your attorney can discuss filing for a third-party action.
This is filed when someone outside the workplace is responsible for the accident. For example, if a faulty valve caused a slow leak of a damaging agent in a storage facility, that third party could be held accountable. For work-related accidents, you can seek compensation for pain and suffering, lost wages, disability, and emotional distress.
If a Product Manufacturer is Responsible for Harmful Chemicals
A product liability claim can be made when a product causes injury. There are an endless number of scenarios in this case. A typical example would be an electronic toy with a small battery sold without a warning label, resulting in a two-year-old swallowing the battery and being rushed to the emergency room. A second example could be a faulty escape lever on a can of spray paint, which, when pressed, expelled paint toward the user instead of away from them. Skin and eye injuries ensued, and several hospital visits were required.
If Another Negligent Party is Responsible for Chemical Exposure
Personal injury claims compose a large group of chemical exposure cases. For example, a group of teenagers receives hip-hop dance classes in an old building downtown. Recently many of them have been complaining of headaches and dizziness after spending a few hours in the building. It was later found that the building owner was aware that the old ventilation and heating system caused carbon monoxide levels high enough to make them sick. Permanent damage in the form of migraines and augmented asthma symptoms followed.
Contact our Hamilton NJ Chemical Exposure Attorneys Today
Proving a personal injury case involving chemical exposure can be challenging. Gathering the necessary evidence, interviewing witnesses, studying federal and state regulations regarding chemicals, their transport, storage, and uses requires tenacity and dedication.
The experienced personal injury lawyers and workers’ compensation attorneys at Cohen & Riechelson know what a difficult time it is when you are facing medical bills, possibly painful treatments, or the threat of permanent damage because of an accident involving chemical exposure. We may be able to help you recover a substantial financial award as compensation for harm caused by toxic chemicals in Hamilton, Hopewell, Pennington, Princeton, Carteret, Lawrence, or towns in Mercer County, Middlesex County, and throughout New Jersey.