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Legal Blog

Dangerous Chemical Inhalations in the Workplace

Between the oil and gas industry and other industrial workplaces in Texas, the use of and exposure to toxic chemicals at work is prevalent for a large number of our state’s workers. Workers exposed to toxic chemicals on the job are at risk of being injured or even killed, on average at least 45 workers die as a result of occupational chemical exposure each year. In order for a chemical to hurt someone, it has to come into contact with their body in one of four ways – inhalation, skin or eye contact, swallowing, or injection. Breathing contaminated air is the most common way dangerous chemicals enter the body. People involved in hard physical work breathe more often, making dangerous chemical inhalations in the workplace even more dangerous.

Chemicals can be inhaled as gasses, vapors, mists, dust, fumes, and smoke. Employers using hazardous substances are required to include warning labels and Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) with these products. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), in order to ensure chemical safety in the workplace, information about the identities and hazards of the chemicals must be available and understandable to workers.

Common Workplace Toxic Chemicals

Harmful chemicals and substances in the workplace can cause chronic illnesses and deaths that can be untraceable due to the symptoms appearing many years after exposure instead of suddenly. But, some dangerous chemical inhalations in the workplace lead to immediate disaster.

Depending on the type of profession you’re in, you may be exposed to dangerous chemicals, including but not limited to:

  • Ammonia: Ammonia is used in many industries, including agriculture, manufacturing, mining, metallurgy, petroleum refining, and more. High levels of ammonia can irritate/burn the skin, mouth, throat, lungs, and eyes. Very high levels can permanently damage the lungs and even cause death.
  • Asbestos: Asbestos fibers are too small to be seen and breathing them in can cause the buildup of scar-like tissue in the lungs, loss of lung function, lung cancer, disability, asbestos, mesothelioma, and even death.
  • Benzene: Benzene exposure is more common than many people realize. People that work in industries that make or use benzene are usually exposed to it at the highest levels. A human carcinogen, benzene exposure can cause leukemia.
  • Carbon Monoxide: An odorless, colorless gas, carbon monoxide is called the silent killer because it is the leading cause of poison-related illness and death worldwide. Carbon monoxide causes more workplace deaths than any other toxic substance except for alcohol. Employees who work in boiler rooms, in the paper and steel industries, and as first responders are often at risk for this type of toxic workplace exposure.
  • Chlorine: Chlorine is very dangerous and can cause death. It can also cause severe irritation of the nose and throat, severe lung injury, pulmonary edema, and more. A single exposure can cause lifelong consequences for the respiratory system.
  • Cleaning Solvents: Cleaning solvents can irritate the eyes and skin as well as the throat, nose, and nasal passages. Prolonged exposure can cause nervous system issues and adversely affect the liver, urinary, and reproductive systems.
  • Gasoline: Gasoline and its vapors are toxic and extended exposure can reduce the functioning of the central nervous system and cause organ damage. It can also damage the lungs.
  • Hydrochloric Acid: Short-term exposure to hydrochloric acid can cause eye, nose, and respiratory tract irritation and inflammation as well as pulmonary edema. Long-term or chronic exposure can cause gastritis, chronic bronchitis, dermatitis, and photosensitivity.
  • Methane: In high concentrations, methane exposure can cause asphyxiation, as it reduces the amount of oxygen breathed in from the air. As less oxygen becomes available, convulsions, coma, and death will occur.
  • Paint and Paint Thinner: Workers in the painting industry are exposed to chemicals in paint products during application and removal. This can cause lung cancer, mesothelioma, bladder cancer, and other types of cancer.
  • Pesticides: Pesticides are omnipresent in the air, water, soil, and even food. At work, exposure occurs through fumigation inhalation. The count of acute pesticide-related illnesses by state from 1998 – 2011 ranks Texas second in the country. Workers exposed to pesticides exhibit an increased risk of lymphatic and bone marrow cancers, leukemia, prostate cancer, and other cancers.
  • Sulfuric Acid: Workers can be harmed by sulfuric acid exposure, which is used in many industries including petroleum refining, chemical production, metal curing, and more. Sulfuric acid can irritate the skin, eyes, respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts and cause tooth erosion and permanent respiratory damage.

Texas Toxic Exposure Lawyers

We use our years of skill and ability to help those who truly need it. This is what drives us to work tirelessly for justice each and every day. If you have been injured, contact our law firm for free and confidential legal advice. We can explain your rights and provide options for moving forward. When you have been injured in a serious accident or due to another person’s negligence, you need someone who cares about your recovery — physical, emotional, and financial. When we take over your legal burden, you can focus on what matters the most — your recovery. Call us today at 281-326-9197.