Exposure to Toxic Chemicals You May Have a Personal Injury Case

Houston Toxic Exposure Attorneys

Understanding the Real Risk of Toxic Exposure

It is not surprising to learn that toxic chemicals pose a serious threat to a person's health and well being. What is surprising is to find out that toxic exposure is not always noticeable. Toxic exposure can come from a variety of different sources, and can cause significant harm if extreme caution is not taken. Many people work in fields that put them at risk for serious toxic exposure, all the while thinking that they are safe.

Workers aren't the only ones at risk. Toxic exposure can even come in the form of children’s toys and other products. Recently, there has been a growing concern over products coated in lead-based paint. It is now estimated that at least 250,000 children under the age of five have blood lead levels higher than the safe amount. Even with treatment, the effects of lead exposure are difficult to undo, leading to chronic issues.

If you may have been exposed to toxic substances, talk to our Houston toxic exposure lawyers.

Common Types of Toxic Chemical Exposure & Their Effects:

  • Benzene Exposure – Over long periods of time, may cause harmful effects on blood
  • Carbon Monoxide Poisoning – May cause headaches, nausea, and eventually death
  • Welding Fumes Exposure – May cause neurological and neurobehavioral health effects

Claims of Hydrogen Sulfide Exposure

Hydrogen sulfide is a toxin that can kill workers if the levels of the chemicals are not carefully monitored. Most often, hydrogen sulfide is released from sewage sludge, sulfur hot springs, with natural gas, and in liquid manure. Low levels of the gas emit an odor resembling rotten eggs. However, high levels of hydrogen sulfide are odorless. At high concentrations, the gas can cause instantaneous collapse and sudden death.

Even at lower levels, exposure results in irritating and dangerous symptoms. It can cause eye infections, respiratory irritation, and nausea. If you are an industrial worker, it is important to know where hydrogen sulfide is and how you can work to avoid exposure.

Types of Jobs at Risk to Hydrogen Sulfide Exposure

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) says that all workers need to be cautious of the dangers of hydrogen sulfide. This gas is present in many workplace atmospheres. Those in poorly ventilated areas can be seriously harmed because of hydrogen sulfide.

Some of the places where the gas is typically present include:

  • Petroleum and production refining sites
  • Food processing plants
  • Hot asphalt paving projects
  • Mining locations
  • Sewer and water treatment plants
  • Agricultural silos and pits
  • Textile manufacturing locations
  • Pulp and paper processing plants

Workers at Risk to Hydrogen Sulfide Exposure

There are certain industries put workers more at risk than others. OSHA has marked certain careers that have higher likelihood of exposure.

Workers who face an increased risk of exposure include:

Workers that are employed in marshy landscapes can be at risk for exposure because a bacterium in these areas often breaks down organic matter to produce the gas. Also, workers who are in confined spaces where hydrogen sulfide could build up to dangerous levels should be careful. This includes those that work in pits, manholes, tunnels, or wells, as well as any job taking place in a poorly-ventilated space. Hydrogen sulfide is heavier than air, so it sinks--putting workers in low-lying areas at risk. Hot weather increases the vapor pressure of the gas.

Seek Compensation for Hydrogen Sulfide Exposure

If you have been exposed to hydrogen sulfide at dangerous levels because your supervisor failed to address high levels of the gas at your workplace, you deserve compensation. In the past, hydrogen sulfide has been responsible for killing workers throughout the United States. OSHA tries to reduce the possibility of hydrogen sulfide exposure by citing companies that are not careful to mitigate risk.

In 2011, OSHA cited an excavation and utilities company at a Gordon, Texas facility following a fatality. Also, OSHA cited 5 companies for exposing employees to the dangerous gas at a work site in Eustace, Texas. In 2010, OSHA reprimanded Matula & Matula, a construction company in Lake Jackson after a worker died from hydrogen sulfide exposure on the job. Another individual died in 2010 in Douglasville at Enbridge G&P.

Toluene Exposure Claims

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

  • 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 Exposure to 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.

Effects of Short-Term Exposure

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

Long-Term Effects of 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.

Effects of Long-Term Exposure

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

The Different Ways Toxic Chemicals Can Affect You

There are three major categories of toxic substances:

  • Chemical toxicity includes the inhalation of substances such as lead, gasoline, and asbestos.
  • Biological toxicity refers to certain types of bacteria and viruses.
  • Physical toxins include those that are typically visible such as dust and fibers.

These various types of toxins are measured by the effect they have on an individual. A person can become exposed to harmful toxins by ingesting them, absorbing them through the skin, and inhalation. Exposure to various chemicals can cause illnesses such as organ failure and cancer which require serious and immediate medical treatment. Many such chemicals don't have a taste or odor—only symptoms caused by exposure.

Who Can Be Held Responsible?

Employers and manufacturers are responsible for protecting the safety of employees and consumers by taking the necessary measures to remediate the presence of toxic chemicals in the workplace and on the market. If steps are not taken, drastic consequences may result.

Hire a Toxic Exposure Attorney to Fight for Your Rights. We Represent Clients Nationwide.

If you are injured in a Texas work accident involving toxic exposure or if you handled a dangerously manufactured product, and you suffered injury or illness as a result, you need to hire a lawyer to assist you. At Arnold & Itkin, we can stand beside you and seek financial compensation that will cover your medical bills, as well as 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. Regardless of how it occurred, you deserved better from those responsible. Let us fight for you.

Fill out a free case evaluation and talk to the dedicated advocates at Arnold & Itkin today: (888) 493-1629.

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