It is challenging to avoid industrial explosions in some workplaces. These explosions often expose people to chemical or toxic materials that may hurt them. Knowing what to do when exposed to chemical or toxic material can help mitigate the effect of the harmful material on the exposed person.
“Sometimes, it takes years for the effect of exposure to toxic materials to manifest. This makes it crucial to know and understand the signs so you can seek treatment before it’s too late” says Attorney Ronny Hulsey of Smith Hulsey Law. If you are exposed to chemical or toxic material, you should seek medical attention immediately. If your exposure is due to another’s negligence, you may need to consult a knowledgeable personal injury attorney who would help you file your case to seek compensation.
What Is Chemical Exposure?
Chemical or toxic material exposure occurs each time people come in contact with harmful material or chemicals. These chemicals can be hazardous to human health, and exposure to them can have serious effects on a person.
Most industrial processes result in the creation of wastes that are often hazardous. This waste contains chemicals that endanger not only people but the environment. In some cases, toxic materials can travel some distance through the air. This means that workers and residents who are not in the immediate vicinity of the chemicals can still suffer from the effects.
Where chemical or toxic material exposure often comes from an industrial explosion at a factory or work site, the effects can be far-reaching. During an industrial explosion, toxic materials can find their way out of the explosion site and into the environment. This makes it important for employees of a company where an industrial explosion occurs, and residents living within the vicinity to seek medical attention as they may have become exposed without knowing it.
Chemical and Toxic Material Exposure Pathway
Exposure pathway is a common term used in referring to the different ways chemical and toxic materials get into the body. Chemical materials can enter the environment through tanks, incinerators, factories, or landfills. When these hazardous materials get into the atmosphere, it becomes easier for people to be exposed to them. Chemicals and toxic materials can be transported by air, soil, or water. Additionally, plants or animals can carry these harmful substances.
There are three different ways toxic materials can get into the human body, and they include:
- Inhalation: When chemical or poisonous materials mix up with the air, they can get into the body when people breathe in the air. These toxic materials can exist physically in vapors, smoke, gasses, dust, mists, and fumes. The rate of absorption increases when such toxic materials are inhaled into a person’s lungs.
- Ingestion: Exposure occurs when people eat food or drink water containing these toxic materials. Also, ingestion can be a level two chemical exposure pathway. For instance, if a person’s hands come in contact with toxic material and they put their hands in their mouth, the chemical material can enter the body through the mouth.
- Contact with the skin: Chemicals can enter the body through contact with the skin and eyes. The entry rate of these chemicals through skin contact is usually slow, unlike in ingestion and inhalation. However, when the exposed person has cuts or wounds on the skin, they can easily absorb toxic materials into the bloodstream.
Who Is at Risk of Chemical or Toxic Material Exposure?
When an industrial explosion or other exposure events occur, everyone that is within the environment of the explosion is at risk. Also, chemical materials can travel far. Therefore, residents who are not within the immediate environment of the explosion are still at risk of being exposed. It’s also important to note that children tend to suffer more from chemical materials exposure than adults.
According to the World Health Organization, 54 percent of individuals who suffer different kinds of diseases attributed to chemical exposure are children who are below the age of 15. Exposure to toxic materials can have a prolonged effect on children that may follow them into adulthood. Where the exposure level to toxic materials is high, the manifestation can even be seen across different generations.
Common Diseases That May Result from Chemical or Toxic Material Exposure
People exposed to chemical materials after an industrial explosion can go a considerable period without manifesting any symptoms of illnesses. However, certain diseases have been associated with chemical exposure, including cancer, contact dermatitis, asthma, asbestosis, beryllium disease, chronic obstructive lung disease, and pneumonitis.
What to Do When Exposed to Chemical and Toxic Material
No one willingly exposes themselves to toxic material. However, if such exposure does occur, knowing what to do is vital in controlling the effect of such exposure on an individual. If you or someone close to you have been exposed to chemical material, the first reaction should be to call 911 or contact your healthcare provider.
However, before the ambulance gets to the person, you can do the following while waiting:
- Quickly take the victim away from the source of the chemical. If the person’s clothes or jewelry has come in contact with the toxic material, you may also need to remove them. Some chemicals are corrosive. Therefore, keeping the source in direct contact with the body can cause more harm than good.
- If the victim ingested the chemical, you might need to clear the lungs. This may entail taking the victim out of the environment to get fresh air.
- Where the chemical came in contact with the eyes or skin, you may need to wash the affected part with clean water.
Symptoms of Chemical Exposure
One can easily detect chemical exposure by taking note of symptoms like teary and burning eyes, headaches, blurry vision, and sweating. Additionally, victims of chemical exposure can also experience diarrhea and stomach aches.
The symptoms of chemical exposure often depend on the level of exposure. Where the exposure level is high, victims may experience more severe symptoms such as breathing difficulties, convulsions, and death in some cases.
Filing a Chemical or Toxic Material Exposure Lawsuit
Many times, chemical exposure resulting from industrial explosions may occur due to the negligence of another. The victim may file a lawsuit against the negligent party and receive compensation for their injuries in such a case. However, cases like this may require a thorough investigation to determine the “at-fault” party. This is where having a competent personal injury lawyer comes in handy.
Your attorney will help you decide whether to file a lawsuit or settle out of court. The settlement to be received will mostly cover medical expenses, lost earnings, and non-economic losses suffered in the course of the exposure.
Companies whose work processes involve the handling of toxic materials are required to put in place necessary safety measures to ensure their workers’ safety. Where companies fail to put standard safety measures in place, they may be held liable in the event of chemical exposure on the grounds of negligence.
Exposure to chemical materials can be slow in manifesting but hazardous. It is therefore crucial that individuals take precautionary measures to prevent such exposures. However, when you or a loved one becomes exposed to toxic material, seek medical attention immediately and reach out to an experienced attorney to help you determine the next line of action.