The term “chemical exposure” is used to refer contact with a variety of toxic or hazardous man made substances. Many paints, cleaning products and other products contain dangerous chemicals that can damage the body when inhaled or touched. Unfortunately, many employers are either ignorant or cut corners when it comes to safety and education, properly storing dangerous chemicals, providing adequate training, or providing the proper protective equipment. The result is that workers suffer short-term injuries such as respiratory symptoms, forgetfulness or disorientation. Workers also can suffer long term consequences including cancer, neurological injury, and death.
These types of cases could be difficult to prove and many employers fight toxic exposure claims vigorously.
Individuals who work in industrial environments typically face a greater risk of being exposed to dangerous chemicals, but chemical expose can affect anyone. Some of the serious ramifications involving toxic chemical exposure are:
• Asbestos poisoning
• Brain Damage
• Chemical burns
• Metal poisoning
• Nerve damage
• Respiratory disease, including emphysema
The greatest chemical exposure disaster occurred in December 1984 in Bhopal, India, when at a Union Carbide Limited pesticide plant, released toxic chemicals that caused over 500,000 people to be exposed. The substance made its way into poverty stricken shantytowns located near the plant. There are various estimates on the death toll, with estimates as high as 8,000 people dying within two weeks and another 8,000 dying from gas-related diseases. A government affidavit in 2006 stated the leak caused 558,125 injuries. Among the dangerous occupations that regularly suffer chemical exposure are airline personnel. Most people do not understand that the air that passes through the cabin is sucked in through the same port that pulls in engine air. The air is then "bled off" the engine, cooled, and circulated in the cabin and cockpit. The air is not filtered.
As a result of mechanical failures, oil and other chemicals are frequently leaked into the cabin and cockpit, resulting in serious injuries, including lung and brain injuries. Fenner and Voles handled multiple cabin air contamination cases involving Philadelphia based flight attendants.