Every day, whether we realize it or not, we are all exposed to toxic chemicals. Fortunately, most of us don’t experience a high level of toxic chemical exposure on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. Unfortunately, however, there are some of us who do experience high levels of toxic chemical exposure every day, week, or month. In such situations, the exposure often takes place where we spend most of our time, which is usually home, school, or work. For those who are exposed to toxic chemicals at work, it can be especially problematic, because the exposure can sometimes be treated as “just a part of the job”, which should never be the case.
What Can Toxic Chemical Exposure Do to Our Bodies?
Unsure if you’ve been exposed to toxic chemicals? You’re probably not alone. Signs of toxic chemical exposure vary depending on the type of chemical exposure a person experiences. One reason for this is that toxic chemicals can come in a variety of forms, including vapors, solids, gases, liquids, dusts, fumes, fibers, and mists. Due to the varying forms that toxic chemicals can take, they can enter our bodies in a few different ways:
- Ingestion – This is when toxic chemicals are swallowed. It can happen if toxic chemicals spill on or somehow get in beverages, food, facial hair, or hands.
- Inhalation – This involves breathing in toxic gas, vapor, dust, fiber, or mist.
- Skin/Eye Contact – Toxic chemicals can get in our bodies if they get in our eyes or on our skin.
Once toxic chemicals are in our bodies, they can attack us in unique ways, including targeting different parts of our bodies, such as the lungs, kidneys, liver, or nervous system. In addition to different toxic chemicals targeting different organs, they also cause a wide range of symptoms. In some cases, symptoms happen right away, and in other cases, symptoms do not present themselves until years after exposure. When symptoms show up quickly, they’re considered acute. When symptoms take a long time to show up, they are considered chronic. Some types of toxic chemical exposure have symptoms that are both acute and chronic.
Common Toxic Chemical Exposure Symptoms
Whether they are acute or chronic, there are symptoms of toxic chemical exposure that are more common than others, including:
- Head – Headaches, lightheadedness, dizziness
- Nervous System – Loss of balance, nervousness, sleeplessness, loss of coordination, tremors, irritability
- Reproductive System – Damaged sperm, low sperm count, egg damage, miscarriage, fetus damage, menstruation problems
- Nose/Throat – Cough, sore throat, sneezing
- Eyes – Irritation, redness, feel grainy, watery
- Lungs – Lung cancer, shortness of breath, wheezing, cough, mesothelioma
- Skin – Skin cancer, rash, itchiness, dryness, redness
- Stomach – Stomach pain, stomachaches, diarrhea, vomiting, nausea
Toxic Chemicals Commonly Used in the Workplace
There are a wide variety of toxic chemicals and different industries rely on different types of toxic chemicals for varying reasons. In many cases, manufacturers require highly toxic chemicals to refine or produce their products. Farmers often use toxic chemicals to protect crops from insects and disease. Some companies use cleaning products that contain toxic chemicals to keep their office spaces clean and disinfected.
Those are just a handful of the many ways that workplaces use toxic chemicals. As such, there are more than a few chemicals commonly used in the workplace, such as:
- Ethylene Oxide Gas
- Vinyl Chloride
- Biologic Agents
How Can I Protect Myself from Toxic Chemical Exposure at Work?
If a company uses toxic chemicals for any reason, they are supposed to take reasonable steps to protect their employees from toxic chemical exposure. Typical ways that companies protect their workers from toxic chemical exposure include:
- Provide employees with safety instructions/information and take every reasonable step to ensure that workers know safety information and follow safety instructions.
- Make sure employees whose job duties put them at risk of toxic chemical exposure have access to and wear/use protective equipment, such as gloves, respirators, masks, hazmat suits, and coveralls.
- Have facilities available onsite for employees who are exposed to toxic chemicals while working where they can safely remove protective gear, change clothes, and shower before heading home after work. If possible, provide employees with an onsite laundry facility or access to a workplace laundry service, so that they can avoid washing their work clothing at home and potentially exposing their family or others to clothing that may be contaminated with toxic chemicals.
Does Workers’ Compensation Cover Toxic Chemical Exposure?
In most cases, those who have suffered a toxic exposure injury or illness while on the job are entitled to file a workers’ compensation claim. In addition, if a third party, such as a contractor, visitor, or vendor, is to blame for a worker’s toxic exposure, the employee may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against them.
The workers’ compensation attorneys at Belushin Law Firm, P.C. have been fighting for the rights of employees injured on the job and their families for decades. Our legal team has recovered millions for our clients, including $2.7 million in a workers’ compensation case involving a worker who fell from a roof bulkhead.
For more information about how the legal team at Belushin Law Firm, P.C. can help you with your workers’ compensation claim, give us a call at (888) 918-9890 or fill out our online contact form today.