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Exposure to Harmful or Dangerous Chemicals

Exposure to harmful or dangerous chemicals is one of the common ways that workers throughout Massachusetts suffer injuries or become sick. In many cases, victims do not realize that their injury or illness is due to workplace exposure to chemicals.

Typically, when we think of someone being injured by dangerous or harmful chemicals, we think of what we see in the movies, like a large vat of acid or another toxic chemical in a factory or warehouse. In reality, we’re exposed to hazardous chemicals on a regular basis, and occupational exposure is much more common than one might initially realize.

Our workers’ compensation attorneys at the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman, LLCin Boston explain, the symptoms of occupational exposure to hazardous chemicals are often far less dramatic than we may see in the movies, but can just as quickly result in temporary or even permanent disability, which can prevent the injured worker from earning a living.

Exposure to Harmful or Dangerous Chemicals can Cause Cancer and Other Health Issues

Some symptoms of toxic exposure include severe skin rashes or skin breakdown, nerve damage, bloody noses, respiratory problems, headaches and other serious conditions. When a victim cannot leave the house due to breathing problems and cannot concentrate due to neurological impairments or severe headaches, he or she can be forced to incur medical expenses while, at the same time, missing work.

In addition, many chemicals are believed to be carcinogenic. Nearly 13 million people are diagnosed with cancer each year, and millions of American workers are exposed to harmful or dangerous chemicals or other substances that have been determined to be carcinogenic or potentially carcinogenic, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s information on occupational cancer.

Researchers estimate that between 3% to 6% of all cancers in the world are caused by occupational exposure to carcinogens in the workplace.

Types of Harmful or Dangerous Chemicals

One type of toxic exposure case that has been making headlines in recent months involves the glyphosate-containing herbicide Roundup. Roundup manufacturer Bayer announced on June 24, 2020, that it will pay more than $10 billion to settle tens of thousands of product liability lawsuits that claim that the weed killer causes cancer. In 2018, a San Francisco jury entered a $289 million verdict against Monsanto, the original owner of the Roundup brand, in a case in which a school groundskeeper developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma from use of the product.

NIOSH has compiled an extensive list of potential occupational carcinogens.

Some of the substances on the list are:

  • Acetaldehyde (used to produce disinfectants, drugs and perfumes)
  • Asbestos
  • Benzene (found in crude oil and gasoline and used to make plastics, dyes, detergents and other household products)
  • Chlordane (used as a pesticide)
  • DDT (used as an insecticide)
  • Diacetyl (used to flavor foods)
  • Dioxane (used as a solvent to manufacture chemicals)
  • Diesel exhaust
  • Formaldehyde (used in the manufacture of building products and other household goods)
  • Gasoline
  • Toluene (used in automotive and aviation fuels)
Workers Most at Risk for Exposure to Harmful or Dangerous Chemicals

A nail salon worker is, of course, only one example of an employee being exposed to dangerous or hazardous chemicals. Other examples include pool workers, store employees who handle household chemicals, hair stylists , construction workers, sanitation workers, healthcare workers, and those employed in many other industries. Healthcare workers are routinely exposed to hazardous chemicals, infectious material, radiation and other harmful materials that can result in workplace injuries.

In addition, the following workers are likely to be exposed to harmful or dangerous chemicals as well, including:

  • Agricultural workers
  • Drycleaners
  • Firefighters
  • Miners
  • Outdoor workers
  • Welders
What Should You do if You Suspect Occupational Exposure to Harmful or Dangerous Chemicals?

If you’re an employee who has started to develop symptoms commonly associated with occupational exposure to hazardous chemicals, it’s important to discuss these concerns with a doctor. Doctors often have difficulty making the connection between symptoms and occupational exposure without a patient telling them about all of the chemicals to which they are exposed.

An employee can also get the Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs) that the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires to be provided to all employees who work with chemicals. If your employer has not provided these sheets, they can be obtained easily on the internet.

A toxic exposure attorney will investigate your case and work to gather evidence linking your injury or illness to a workplace exposure. For example, your attorney might obtain reports from physicians, toxicologists and other experts explaining how your work exposure caused your disease.

Contact us online at the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman, LLC today for a free and confidential consultation or call us now at (617) 367-2900.

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