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Toluene Exposure Claims

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Toluene is a clear, colorless liquid that vaporizes when exposed to room temperature air. The chemical has a sharp, sweet odor. Toluene can be extremely dangerous to those exposed. If you smell the sickly sweet odor associated with the chemical, chances are that you have already been exposed and need medical attention. Toluene is normally mixed in with solvents in common products that are found at work sites or homes.

Products Containing Toluene

Toluene is present in:

  • Paints
  • Metal cleaners
  • Adhesives
  • Nail polishes
  • Shellacs
  • Rust preventatives
  • Printing inks
  • Varnishes

Workplaces at Risk to Toluene Exposure

Some workplaces are at a greater risk to toluene exposure than others. Naturally, any construction or remodeling company where toluene-based paints are used puts workers at risk to exposure. Furniture makers—who often use varnishes, shellacs, and finishes on their woodwork—may be at risk. Workers can suffer exposure to toluene by inhalation, ingestion, or splashing on the eyes. Toluene can also be absorbed through the skin.

Studies show that employees at nail salons, printing establishments, auto repair locations, and construction sites often work with products containing high amounts of toluene and should be trained to avoid exposure. Workplaces with any risk of toluene exposure need to take precautions. According to OSHA, a workplace with no proper ventilation or safety protocol in place is violating safety regulations.

Preventing the Harmful Effects of Toluene

Workplaces can reduce the risk of toluene-based injuries by substituting toluene-based materials with water-based ones when possible in cleaning and degreasing jobs. Employers should also use water-based paint and adhesives instead of toluene and solvent-based ones.

When using a toluene-based product it is best to use rollers, brushes, or flow applications, rather than spray applicators. The most important protective measure against toluene exposure is ventilation. Keep windows open if you are working inside and make sure the vapors can escape containment. When using liquid toluene, workers should wear gloves to reduce the risk of getting the chemical on their skin.

Short-Term Effects of Toluene

The effects of toluene are often identical regardless of how you are exposed. Inhalation leads to nervous system damage, headache, dizziness, nausea and other symptoms. Skin exposure leads to the same symptoms with the added risk of dermatitis. While not an officially recognized effect, studies have shown that toluene exposure can contribute to hearing loss if a worker is already exposed to loud noises, like many industrial workers. Toluene is also flammable, so it can cause explosions or fires if it is exposed to a spark or flame.

If you suffer short-term toluene exposure, here are some of the symptoms that you might experience:

  • Irritated eyes
  • Anxiety
  • Cracked skin
  • Irritated nose
  • Confusion
  • Throat irritation
  • Dry skin
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Feelings of intoxication

Chronic Exposure to Toluene

Workers often deal with the long-term effects of toluene, many of which they won't notice until years after exposure took place. The central nervous system is the primary victim of toluene exposure, subject to brain damage, tremors, involuntary eye movement, drowsiness, and more. Those that suffer long-term or high-concentration toluene exposure may require hospitalization or may suffer permanent injury.

Long-term effects include:

  • Tiredness
  • Numbness in extremities
  • Uterus damage
  • Kidney damage
  • Liver damage
  • Damage to the nervous system

Hire a Houston Personal Injury Attorney

If you are injured in a Texas work accident involving toluene exposure and if you suffer injury or illness as a result, you need to hire a lawyer to assist you. A Houston personal injury lawyer at Arnold & Itkin LLP will stand beside you and seek a settlement that will cover your medical bills and your pain and suffering. We have obtained billions of dollars in verdicts and settlements—you can trust us to fight for the results you need.

There are multiple reasons you would pursue a claim. In workplace injuries, you may be able to seek worker's compensation from a negligent employee. In product liability claims, you may be able to secure a settlement from the product's company, especially if there is no warning label. Regardless of how it occurred, you deserved better from those responsible. Let us fight for you.

Talk to our attorneys for more information or set up a free consultation with a lawyer at our firm to learn whether or not you have a case!

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