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Exposure to Toxic Chemicals

Every day, American workers are exposed to numerous types of toxic chemicals in the workplace. While you can see or sense other hazards that may be present in the work environment, it's often impossible to detect the presence of toxic chemicals that seep into your skin or are inhaled. Skin penetration can, in many ways, and in the long run, be more harmful than the inhalation of chemicals, because workers are not aware of the exposure. This allows non-volatile chemicals on the surface of the skin to be absorbed slowly and in dangerous concentrations over a period of time.

The degree and intensity of toxic chemical exposure in the workplace can be seen in the fact that an estimated 100,000 deaths occur every year associated to toxic exposure. This number takes into account the number of deaths that occur because of previous and prolonged exposure to toxic chemicals in the workplace. In many cases, the ill-effects of toxic exposure become evident only years after the exposure occurs. For instance, exposure to asbestos—which began in the sixties in the construction industry—went unregulated and unchecked for years, until it became clear that workers were suffering and dying from mesothelioma, a type of lung cancer caused by asbestos inhalation.

Recommended & Permissible Exposure Limits

Employers are required to set limits on exposure to toxic chemicals to prevent the risk of excessive contact with them. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has its own set of limits for chemical exposure called Recommended Exposure Limit (REL). The limits imposed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration are called Permissible Exposure Limits (PEL). The PEL relates to enforceable limits for general industry, construction industry, and the shipyard industry; it covers exposure to toxic substances, air contaminants, mineral dust, and hazardous waste. OSHA also addresses specific standards for ventilation for the general, longshoring, shipping, and construction industries to minimize toxic exposure in confined spaces.

Employers are required to regularly test the atmosphere to prevent excessive concentrations of carbon monoxide and other toxic gases. Workers must be provided recommended personal protective equipment before exposure to a toxic agent. Workers who may be affected at any stage of the process, from manufacture to handling and loading, must be protected from excessive exposure to toxic agents. Often, workers may not be aware of the presence of chemicals in their environment, placing them at great risk for excessive toxic exposure. Employers are required to provide training to employees so they can have a complete understanding of the injuries and illnesses that can result from exposure.

Asbestos Exposure

The term 'asbestos' refers to a group of minerals that are used in the construction industry as insulation materials, in the textile industry, and in the cement industry. The minerals can disintegrate into microscopic particles that quickly find their way into the body via the respiratory system. Over the years, thousands of workers who had been exposed to asbestos have been diagnosed with, and have died from, lung cancer and other serious lung-related conditions. Asbestos is not used as widely as before, but its presence in industry still poses a significant risk to workers who are exposed.

Benzene Exposure

Benzene is a toxic, but sweet smelling, colorless liquid that is used heavily in industrial and manufacturing processes. It is derived from coal and petroleum products, and as such, may be present in large quantities in petrochemical plants and refineries. It is used mainly in the manufacture of plastics, pesticides, dyes, and rubber. Benzene is also produced naturally through cigarette smoke, although this exposure occurs in very minute quantities and is therefore not considered to be harmful. It is only when the exposure is increased and continues over a prolonged period of time that the serious effects of this toxic chemical compound on human health can be seen.

Benzene can be inhaled, ingested, penetrate through the skin, or may be absorbed through contact with the eyes. Employers are required to minimize exposure to benzene to prevent its detrimental effects, even in high risk industries. People who have been exposed to benzene in the workplace even for a period of less than five years, have suffered various form of leukemia, a kind of cancer that affects the blood and bone marrow, and types of anemia and non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system. Although anybody who works in manufacturing industries that involve the use of or release of benzene may suffer from the effects of toxic exposure, the consequences are seen in their greatest intensity in people who work in petrochemical plants, benzene purification plants and oil refineries.

Arnold & Itkin: Helping You File a Toxic Exposure Claim

No matter the nature of your exposure, if you have suffered from wrongful exposure of any kind, then you deserve to be legally represented by an industrial injury lawyer who will be there to help you protect your legal rights. At Arnold & Itkin LLP, we have seen the damage that exposure can do, and we are fully aware of the nuances that are associated with claims of this nature. The statute of limitations that are applied to these types of cases are not always cut and dry; they can bring into consideration what is known as the discovery rule. To make sure that you are being protected to the full extent of the law, it is in your best interests to consult with us as soon as possible.

Client's portion of total recovery may be subject to Medicare/Medicaid reimbursement claims, Medicare/Medicaid liens or other third-party claims or liens. These verdicts and settlements are intended to be representative of cases handled by Arnold & Itkin, LLP. These listings are not a guarantee or prediction of the outcome of any other claims.

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