Injury from Toxic Substances… answers to your questions
We have a team of lawyers experienced in handling Toxic Substances cases. If you or someone you know has suffered serious injury from Toxic Substances in the state of Texas, we can help.
Toxic substances are chemicals prevalent in the workplace that are capable of causing harm. These include dusts, mixtures, paints, fuels and solvents. Hazardous substances are used in many workplaces today. Working people are discovering that they need to know more about the health effects of chemicals they use or may be exposed to on the job. Textbooks, fact sheets, and material safety data sheets (MSDSs) provide important information, but they are often written in technical language.
What makes a chemical toxic?
The toxicity of a substance is its ability to cause harmful effects. These effects can strike a single cell, a group of cells, an organ system, or the entire body. A toxic effect may be visible damage, or a decrease in performance or function measurable only by a test. The toxicity of a substance depends on three factors: its chemical structure, the extent to which the substance is absorbed by the body and the body's ability to detoxify the substance (change it into less toxic substances) and eliminate it from the body.
Routes of Exposure
The most common type of exposure occurs when you breathe a substance into the lungs. The alveoli absorb oxygen and other chemicals into the bloodstream. The skin is a protective barrier that helps keep foreign chemicals out of the body. However, some chemicals can easily pass through the skin and enter the bloodstream. Some chemicals may burn or irritate the eye. Occasionally they may be absorbed through the eye and enter the bloodstream. The eyes are easily harmed by chemicals, so any eye contact with the chemicals should be taken as a serious incident. The least common source of exposure in the workplace is swallowing chemicals. Chemicals can be ingested if they are left on hands, clothing or beard, or accidentally contaminate food, drinks or cigarettes.
How can toxic substances harm the body?
When a toxic substance causes damage at the point where it first contacts the body, that damage is called a local effect. The most common points at which the substances first contact the body are the skin, eyes, nose, throat and lungs. Toxic substances can also enter into the body and travel in the bloodstream to the internal organs. Effects that are produced this way are called systemic. The internal organs most commonly affected are the liver, kidneys, heart, nervous system (including the brain) and reproductive system.
What are the different forms of toxic materials?
Toxic materials can take the form of solids, liquids, gases, vapors, dusts, fumes, fibers and mists. How a substance gets into the body and what damage it causes depends on the form or the physical properties of the substance. Most solids are generally not hazardous since they are not likely to be absorbed into the body, unless present as small particles such as dust.
Many hazardous substances are in liquid form at normal temperatures. Some liquids can damage the skin. Some pass through the skin and enter the body and may or may not cause skin damage. The presence of a gas may be difficult to detect if it has no color or odor, and does not cause immediate irritation. Such gases, like carbon monoxide, may still be very hazardous.
Vapors can be inhaled into the lungs, and in some cases may irritate the eyes,
skin or respiratory tract. Some are flammable, explosive and/or toxic. Dusts may be hazardous because they can be inhaled into the respiratory tract. Larger particles of dust are usually trapped in the nose and windpipe (trachea) where they can be expelled, but smaller particles (respirable dust) can reach and may damage the lungs.
Many metal fumes can cause an illness called metal fume fever, consisting of fever, chills and aches like the "flu." Smaller fibers such as asbestos, can lodge in the lungs and cause serious harm. Larger fibers are trapped in the respiratory tract; and are expelled without reaching the lung. The spraying of pesticides and the machining of metals using metal working fluids are two situations where mists are commonly produced.
How can exposures be reduced?
Knowledge-Everyone who works with toxic substances should know the names, toxicity and other hazards of the substances they use. Engineering controls limiting exposure at the source is the preferred way to protect workers, such as respiratory protective equipment, protective clothing, and barrier cream etc.
Research for toxic substances:
A number of things need to be taken care off while conducting a research for toxic substances. These are things like what is the substance? What's in it? How toxic is it? Are health effects acute, chronic, or both? Is there evidence based on research with animals or humans that the substance is a carcinogen? A mutagen? A teratogen or reproductive toxin? How does this substance enter the body (routes of entry): inhalation, skin absorption, ingestion? What is the legal exposure limit (PEL) or recommended TLV?
To how much of the substance are you being exposed? What is the concentration of the substance in the workplace air? How long are you exposed? Are you exposed to other chemicals at the same time? Can they have a combined (additive or synergistic) effect? Do you have any medical conditions or take any drugs that might interact with chemicals? What controls are recommended to prevent overexposure? Is any type of medical testing recommended?
Do you need a toxic substance lawyer?
Toxic substance cases can be extremely complex. Often the damage a toxic substance causes does not surface in chronic form until years after exposure. Often many parties may bear some responsibility for your problem.
If you feel you are injured by a toxic substance or you have a loved one who is suffering or has died from a toxic substance injury you should contact us immediately. You may be due significant compensation for your injuries. We are here to help you get all the money you deserve.