Chemical Exposure in the Workplace

Posted By Katz Leidman Grossman Wolfe & Freund || 9-Nov-2016

Most people come into contact with chemicals on a daily basis, especially if they use household chemicals to clean their kitchen, bathroom, and floors. Although minimal exposure to certain chemicals is generally deemed safe, continuous or prolonged exposure to chemicals is not considered safe or healthful.

We can be exposed to chemicals at home, but generally that’s a choice that we make. We can choose to purchase non-toxic “green” or environmentally friendly cleaners or even vinegar to clean our homes if we want to avoid the toxic effects of household chemicals.

But what about other exposures? Aside from their homes, people are frequently exposed to chemicals through their work. Many of these chemicals are just as dangerous as household chemicals, if not more dangerous.

Dangerous Chemicals at Work

Dozens of industries deal with hazardous, toxic chemicals on a daily basis. In order for workers to be made sick by a harmful chemical, a certain amount of it must enter their bodies. Harmful chemicals can get into workers’ bodies through the air they breathe, through vapors that burn their eyes, or they can be absorbed through the worker’s skin.

Everyone responds differently to chemicals. Some people may come into contact with a dangerous chemical daily and are never harmed. Others, may be extra sensitive to a chemical’s vapors and get extremely sick. Sometimes, workers develop deadly occupational diseases after being exposed to a particular chemical for years.

Several factors determine whether a worker gets sick from chemical exposure, such as:

  • The type of chemical,
  • The amount of the chemical that he or she is exposed to,
  • How long the worker was exposed to the chemical,
  • How often the worker was exposed to the chemical,
  • How the chemical entered the worker’s body, and
  • The worker’s overall health.

Common Contaminants that Harm Workers

There are literally dozens of different chemicals that affect workers’ respiratory system, renal system, cardiovascular system, reproductive system, immune system, skin, hepatic system, and nervous system.

Some of these harmful chemicals include: asbestos (old insulation), radon, carbon monoxide, lead, uranium, chlorinated hydrocarbon solvents, carbon disulfide (industrial production), nitrates (fertilizers), methylene chloride, arsenic (pressure treated wood), and pesticides.

Chemicals, such as arsenic, carbon monoxide and cyanide affect the nervous system. Long-term exposure can lead to serious health effects, including confusion, speech problems, loss of sensation, muscle strength, or coordination.

Exposure to chemicals, such as asbestos, soot, benzene, or carbon monoxide can lead to respiratory problems, such as lung cancer, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, and decreased oxygen supply in the blood.

Chemicals Causing Occupational Diseases

There are too many ill health effects associated with chemical exposure to list. We can say for sure that many dangerous chemicals used in the workplace cause dozens of occupational diseases, which can lead to disability, a decreased quality of life, or in the worst cases, a premature death.

If you are suffering from an occupational disease as a result of being exposed to certain dangerous chemicals from your work, we urge you to contact our New York workers’ compensation firm to schedule a free case evaluation with an experienced member of our legal team.