We are surrounded by chemicals. The world, as it turns out, is fundamentally composed of chemical compounds. However, certain chemicals in large concentrations can cause significant harm to humans. Think about ozone: in one context, ozone is incredibly important for protecting the earth from the damaging effects of the sun’s rays, namely UVB radiation. Consequently, the depletion of the stratospheric ozone layer may be a contributing factor in certain cases of non-melanoma skin cancer and the development of cataracts. But when ozone is produced by fossil fuel industries, cars and trucks, it can lead to disastrous health effects. The overabundance of ozone (also known as smog) has led to thousands of deaths and cases of lung and heart disease. That’s not to mention the 1 million “no-school days” associated with smog alerts.
Types of Exposure
According to the EPA, there are nearly 85,000 chemicals in the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Inventory, a list of all chemical substances available for sale on the market. Knowing whether these chemicals are affecting you in a negative way can be difficult. Toxic substances can lead to any number of illnesses or symptoms. To begin with, there are two basic types of toxicity: acute and chronic. Acute toxicity refers to short-term exposure resulting in negative health effects shortly after the initial contact. Chronic toxicity is a long-term affair, leading to negative consequences over a long duration.
Once you have been affected by a toxic substance, you may experience a whole array of negative effects, ranging from respiratory issues to reproductive problems. For instance, if you are exposed to benzene, which is found in crude oils, natural gas and cigarette smoke, you may experience short-term effects like dizziness, headaches, tremors, confusion or rapid heartbeat. If you are exposed to benzene for a longer duration, your bone marrow may be negatively affected or your blood cell count may decrease leading to anemia. Benzene can also affect the size of women’s ovaries and lead to irregular menstrual cycles. And in some cases, benzene can cause leukemia.
It’s possible that you have been, or could eventually be, exposed to groundwater contamination. In fact, 50 percent of the country relies on groundwater as a source of drinking water, so it’s important to understand how this type of contamination occurs and how it can affect you and your community. To begin with, groundwater contamination refers to the process whereby man-made products find their way into groundwater, making it unsafe for drinking. Gasoline, road salts, and oil are some examples of potential pollutants. Dominic DiGiulio, a former EPA scientist, discovered last year that fracking played a definite role in the contamination of water sources in Wyoming. He and his team discovered large quantities of salt, anomalous ions and diesel compounds in the groundwater. Other potential causes of contamination include, pesticides, fertilizers, chemical spills and various agricultural and urban activities.
Potential Effects of Groundwater Contamination
Exposure to harmful chemicals in groundwater can lead to a variety of negative health effects. If, for instance, a pharmaceutical or electronics company leaks thallium into your local groundwater, you might be exposed to risk of kidney, liver, brain or intestinal damage. Or if your groundwater is contaminated by lead, you might notice negative developmental effects in your children. You, yourself, might experience high blood pressure. Lead is also a probable carcinogen.
You may also find yourself exposed to toxins in your workplace. Chemicals found in a work environment include: asbestos, benzene, iodine, formaldehyde, uranium and arsenic, just to name a few. Your employer may have been negligent and failed to safely store the chemicals, in which case you could file a claim against the company. But even if your employer hasn’t been negligent, you may still be able to file a workers’ compensation claim. It’s a good idea to go to your doctor first and to confirm that your condition is in fact the result of chemical exposure at work. After that, notify your employer and, if you can, file a workers’ compensation claim.
Every state has different rules governing workers’ compensation and toxic tort claims. That’s why you should consider contacting a law firm with experience in toxic tort litigation. The attorneys at Smith Stag can help you pursue justice for your injuries.