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Montgomery & Bucks County Workers' Compensation Law Blog

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Long-Term Illness Due to Chemical Exposure in the Workplace

Which cancers can be caused by exposure to chemicals at the workplace?

We are all familiar with accidental workplace injuries -- falls, burns, fractures, and the like. If you are injured at your place of employment, you are entitled to workers’ compensation, and, in some particularly egregious instances of negligence, you may also be able to sue for premises liability. Less familiar personal injury cases do not revolve around momentary accidents, but develop over time due to contact with a chemical toxin. In either case, Louis P. Lombardi II & Associates, PC can be your staunchest ally.

Long-Term Chemical Exposure Can Lead to Cancer

More and more people have suffered, and are suffering, long-term ill effects, illnesses and death after being present at the site of World Trade Center attack, on September 11, 2001, or in the period of cleanup. This is because first responders, good Samaritans, and local residents were continuously exposed to chemicals that harmed them for days, weeks, months, and years after the terrible event. In seemingly much more benign situations, workers throughout the country (and the world) develop illnesses related to the toxic environments they work in, most often not suspecting that there are poisons around them doing them harm.

Though we generally hear less about these personal injuries because they are slow to develop and don’t usually make headlines, in many cases chemical toxins result in far worse physical damage than slip and falls or even crush accidents. Slowly, over time, particles of toxic chemicals are absorbed through the skin and mucous membranes, inhaled into the lungs, or ingested, resulting in long-lasting, often deadly, tissue damage and disease.

Types of Damage Caused by Chemical Exposure

Chemical exposure in the workplace can cause many different types of cancer and other diseases, including:

Lung Cancer

Employees who work in construction, coal or oil processing, or metal refineries are often exposed to asbestos, arsenic, chromium, tars, and silica. Any of these can cause lung cancer or related conditions, such as COPD and asbestosis, which may not develop until many years of being exposed to the toxins.

Bladder Cancer

The toxic fumes emitted during the production of aluminum, the processing of rubber, or in tanneries have been shown to cause bladder cancer.

Nasal Cancer

Individuals exposed to formaldehyde, wood dust, or high levels of isopropyl alcohol are at great risk of developing nasal cancer.

Cancer of the Larynx or Pharynx

Cancers of the larynx or pharynx can also be caused by exposure to asbestos or isopropyl alcohol.

Mesothelioma

Television advertising has made most of us familiar with mesothelioma, one of the more commonly known work-related cancers that results from exposure to asbestos. Mesothelioma commonly develops in ship workers, construction personnel, and HVAC (heating, ventilation, air-conditioning workers). It is a deadly cancer that develops when asbestos fibers lodge in the lining of the lungs.

Asbestosis

Asbestosis though not deadly can be incapacitating. In this disease, asbestos fibers lodge in the air sacs of the lungs.

Lymphatic and Blood Cancers

Workers routinely exposed to benzene, herbicides or X-ray equipment can develop cancers of the blood or of the lymphatic system.

Skin Cancer

While all of us are in danger of developing skin cancer, workers who work out-of-doors, such as landscaping and construction workers, are at much greater risk. Employees who are exposed to arsenic or coal tar are also more vulnerable to skin cancer.

Liver Cancer

Exposure to arsenic and vinyl chloride increases the risk of liver cancer. These chemicals are common in mining, the manufacturing of electronic components and PVC plastics, and in wood processing.

Chemical Exposure in the Workplace Is All Too Prevalent

According to statistics accumulated in 2014, approximately 8.8 percent of all work-related fatalities were attributed to exposure to toxins. Though the risks are obviously very serious, the time lapse between exposure to toxic chemicals and the development of cancers and other serious, often fatal, illnesses, may be many years, or even decades.

Why You Need an Aggressive Attorney

It is not easy to receive workers’ compensation, or other damages, for a cancer-related claim; the long period of time that has elapsed between the workplace exposure and the illness makes it more difficult to establish a direct connection. Nonetheless, cancers and other diseases caused by chemical exposures are covered under the Occupational Disease Act. If you reside or work in Philadelphia or in Montgomery or Bucks Counties, you need a personal injury/workers’ comp attorney who is local, has extensive experience and a good track record in this field. At Louis P. Lombardi II & Associates, PC, we have the strength, knowledge, and compassion you’re looking for during this difficult period and we are committed to getting you the full compensation you deserve.

 


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