Toxic Exposure Symptoms - Featured Image
February 22, 2022
by Jamie Foster

Toxic Exposure Symptoms

Chemicals are a fact of life in the modern world. They’re all around us and in just about everything that we use or touch, from the skillet you made breakfast in, to the water bottle that you drank from during your workout, to the sunscreen you used on your beach vacation. In most cases, they’ve been thoroughly studied and proven safe. The chemicals that make life easier for many of us, though, can also cause great harm. In today's post we will discuss toxic exposure symptoms, and what to do if you, or someone you know, has been harmed.

What is Toxic Exposure?

According to the Encyclopedia of Clinical Neuropsychology, toxins are most simply defined as poisons. Going strictly by definition, a toxin is different from a poison in that the former is produced by a biological process and the latter is not biologically derived. Venoms are considered toxins that are delivered via injection (bite, sting). However, in common parlance, even among various scientific disciplines, the terms “toxin” and “poison” are used relatively interchangeably. In keeping with this common usage, “toxic exposure” is defined here to be a direct or an indirect contact with any natural or man-made substances or agents that can lead to deleterious changes in body structure or function, including illness or death.

In the workplace, toxic exposure occurs when employees come in direct or indirect contact with hazardous toxins or dangerous chemicals that may increase the risk of illness, disease, or even death. This exposure can happen in many ways, including inhalation and skin contact, and the effects are not always obvious until much later.

Toxic exposure symptoms in the workplace

Who is at risk?

Toxic exposure can happen to anyone, but workers who deal with chemicals on a regular basis are most at-risk. Construction workers, factory workers, oil-spill cleanup crews, welders, and pipe cleaners are just a few of the occupations that may be exposed to hazardous toxins.

Employees have a right to work in a safe and healthy workplace. By law, when hazardous chemicals and/or toxins are present in the workplace, employers are required to provide employees as well as emergency personnel with Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS). These sheets outline the proper procedures for handling or working with a potentially dangerous substance. Workplaces which use dangerous chemicals and hazardous waste must follow strict safeguards to keep the public and workers safe from exposure to toxins. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen. Accidents, as well as acts of willful neglect, can occur that put everyone at risk.

Toxic Exposure in Louisiana

Many of Louisiana’s top industries deal with toxic chemicals on a regular basis, and while they provide jobs and stability for families in the state, they can also be very dangerous occupations. 

One of the most notable instances of toxic exposure in the state is the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in 2010. Government officials estimate that the explosion of the oil rig may have spilled as much as 60,000 barrels of oil a day into the Gulf of Mexico until the flow was finally stopped 84 days later. In addition to the massive environmental and economic damage, the spill put the health of clean-up workers and the general public in grave danger.

In addition to the dangers that the oil itself caused, the cleanup involved a large amount of Corexit oil dispersant which had not undergone toxicology studies at the time of its use. Later studies found that the dispersant contained chemicals that may cause cancer, skin and eye irritation and respiratory problems among other issues. The spill and resulting cleanup led to hundreds of reports of acute toxic exposure, and the effects were lasting.

Columbia University studied the effects among children in Louisiana and Florida and found that more than 40 percent of parents who lived less than 10 miles from the coast at the time of the Deepwater Horizon event had been directly exposed, and more than a third of those reported that their children showed some physical or mental health symptoms.

Symptoms of Toxic Exposure

Because there are so many types of toxins, symptoms can vary greatly. Obvious short term symptoms of a chemical exposure can include things such as:
  • Burning of the eyes, nose or throat
  • Headache
  • Sweating
  • Blurred vision
  • Nausea/stomach discomfort
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Faintness or Weakness
But toxic exposure may not always be as obvious as this. In some cases, you may not even know that you’ve been exposed until years later, when you develop health issues related to the exposure. Some of these can be debilitating or fatal, including certain types of cancers and lung diseases.

Have You or Someone You Know Been Exposed to Harmful Toxins?

If you are experiencing health issues and believe that toxic exposure may be to blame, contact the Falcon Law Firm at 504-341-1234. Our attorneys will fight for your rights and seek the compensation you and your family deserve. You may also contact us online or visit us at our office located at 5044 Lapalco Blvd., Marrero, LA. 

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