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Home ► Blog ► Have You Been Exposed to Hazardous Chemicals? How to Identify Risks and Symptoms
There are man-made and naturally-occurring chemicals everywhere in the environment. Most of these chemicals are harmless, but certain chemicals can pose a threat to human health and may result in permanent medical conditions or even death.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) keeps track of injuries and fatalities related to chemical exposure. Many of 2019’s cases of chemical exposure involved dangerous chemicals, such as arsenic, lead, ammonia, asbestos, or cadmium. These types of chemicals can cause severe and lasting harm and are commonly cited in chemical exposure lawsuits on behalf of those affected.
The National Poison Control Center reports that in 2018, their representatives provided telephone guidance and assistance to almost 2.1 million people who were exposed to chemicals. Review the information below to learn how to identify the symptoms and risks associated with chemical exposure.
Since chemicals are all around us, chemical exposure can happen anywhere. It becomes dangerous when an unsafe chemical enters the environment or a person is exposed to a relatively safe chemical at an excessive or unsafe level.
Chemical exposure in the workplace is common because there are oftentimes dangerous chemicals in the supplies workers use on a daily basis. Solvents, cleaning solutions, fuels, and paints contain chemicals that can cause injury.
If harmful chemicals become airborne and are inhaled through the lungs, they may cause painful side effects. Chemicals may also be present in water due to environmental pollution and, once they’re ingested, they can cause harm to the digestive system and other areas in the body. Chemicals in the soil can also affect the water and food supply and chemicals in food can cause illness or even wrongful death.
Chemical exposure can cause different symptoms depending on the chemical a person was exposed to and the severity of the exposure. In some cases, a person may not exhibit any signs of chemical exposure while others may display severe side effects. It is important to understand common types of chemical exposure and the associated symptoms to determine whether you have a personal injury claim due to toxic exposure.
When a person breathes in a chemical that’s irritating, it’s likely they’ll develop a headache from this exposure. A chemical exposure headache is common when a person is exposed to solvents, such as mineral spirits, without proper ventilation.
Dizziness or disorientation may also occur due to chemical exposure. While waiting for medical treatment, a person suffering from headache, dizziness, or disorientation should sit down close to the ground to avoid a fall. It’s also important to relax and stay calm while waiting for medical intervention.
When harmful chemicals are present in the air and inhaled, they’re likely to cause a cough or sinus issues. Dangerous chemicals or high levels of chemicals that are airborne may cause the nose or throat to feel dry, itchy, and irritated.
If a person is experiencing a cough or sinus issues after exposure to chemicals, they may need to drink water and sit down while waiting for medical personnel. It’s important that the person immediately leaves the area to prevent additional chemical exposure and worsening symptoms.
When a dangerous chemical touches your skin, the area may turn white or red and cause a painful personal injury that needs treatment. It could be itchy or a rash may appear. Depending on the chemical you were exposed to, your skin could also blister or swell.
One way to determine if you’ve experienced a chemical exposure or burn on the skin as opposed to simple skin irritation is the location of the blemish. Your skin will only be red or swollen in the area where the substance touched you.
Don’t touch or scratch the area and wait for medical personnel to treat it properly.
When you’re exposed to airborne chemicals or a chemical physically splashes into your eye, it may cause discomfort, pain, redness, or tearing. While you wait for medical treatment for your eye irritation, be sure to mitigate additional exposure by leaving the area.
Try washing the eyes out with clean and fresh water. However, don’t touch or rub your eyes, especially with unsanitary hands, because you could cause additional irritation.
If you’ve been exposed to a chemical, it’s possible you may continue smelling or tasting the chemical long after exposure. A chemical odor or taste may persist because the chemical is still present in the air or in your body in some way.
For example, formaldehyde is a chemical commonly used in man-made materials, such as carpet, countertops, or kitchen cabinetry. It can remain in the air for a long time, causing chemical odors to linger.
Aftertastes from foods with chemicals may also linger. For example, drinking a wine that’s high in iron may cause a more prominent aftertaste with food, such as fish.
If you or someone you’re with has been exposed to chemicals, it’s important to take action immediately. To treat chemical exposure, follow these steps:
If you were exposed to chemicals through no fault of your own, you may need a reputable injury attorney to help you pursue legal action. If chemical exposure could have been prevented by a business owner, a premises liability attorney may be able to help you seek compensation for your medical expenses. When other injuries are involved, such as birth injuries due to chemical exposure, an experienced lawyer can help you seek damages.
Chemicals are everywhere and chemical exposure may cause unrelenting and painful side effects. It’s important to understand the symptoms of chemical exposure and how to treat them to prevent further harm.
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The contents of this webpage have been prepared by TorHoerman Law, LLC for informational purposes only. None of this information is intended as either legal or medical advice or opinions. No attorney/client relationship is established with use of this website. Sending or receiving information through this site, posting to our blogs/news site does not establish an attorney/client relationship. An attorney/client relationship with TorHoerman Law is established only by an express and written agreement by TorHoerman Law to represent you. Our attorneys make a case-by-case assessment of any claims and results may vary depending on the facts concerning any case. The attorneys at TorHoerman Law are licensed to practice in Illinois, Missouri, and California. In some circumstances, cases may be sent to other qualified lawyers. In those circumstances, TorHoerman Law maintains joint responsibility.