Many occupations involve routine exposure to hazardous chemicals. When that exposure occurs without proper protective equipment or in excess of levels approved by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and other workplace safety authorities, adverse health consequences can follow.
Soot, Grime, Tar, and Diesel (PAHs)
High occupational exposure to PAHs occurs in several industries and occupations, such as aluminum production, coal gasification, coke production, iron and steel foundries, tar distillation, shale oil extraction, wood impregnation, roofing, road paving, carbon black production, carbon electrode production, chimney sweeping, and calcium carbide production. In addition, workers exposed to diesel engine exhaust in the transport industry and in related occupations are exposed to PAHs and nitro-PAHs. Heavy exposure to PAHs entails a substantial risk of lung, skin, bladder, laryngeal and kidney cancer, which is not likely to be due to other carcinogenic exposures present in the same industries. The lung seems to be the major target organ of PAH carcinogenicity and increased risk is present in most of the industries and occupations listed above. An increased risk of skin cancer follows high dermal exposure. An increase in bladder cancer risk is found mainly in industries with high exposure to PAHs from coal tars and pitches. Increased risks have been reported for other organs, namely the larynx and the kidney; the available evidence, however, is inconclusive.
Fiberglass and Styrene
Workers in the fiberglass and styrene manufacturing industries are at increased risk for obstructive lung diseases.
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