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Toxic Chemicals

A toxic tort is an injury to a person’s body or financial situation from a toxic substance caused by the negligence of someone else. Below are common forms of toxic substances and a description of their symptoms:

  • Asbestos Warning ImageAsbestos: A building material. Though not used anymore, the effect of asbestos exposure can be felt in the form of mesothelioma, a serious lung disease, from 20 to 50 years after exposure. Asbestosis is a noncancerous disease caused by asbestos fibers getting lodged in the lungs. Asbestosis can cause shortness of breath, fatigue, chest pain and serious heart problems.
  • Benzene: A colorless liquid found in cigarette smoke, pesticides, drugs, detergents, paints, inks, plastics, glues, dyes and other industrial products. Benzene can cause leukemia and can be passed through the environment in ground water, rain and snow. The most common victims are workers who manufacture or work with materials containing benzene.
  • Carbon Monoxide: Carbon monoxide poisoning most often occurs in homes and vehicles and can be deadly. Because carbon monoxide is colorless and odorless, it may injure or even kill before it is noticed. Carbon monoxide’s effects vary but are generally characterized by fatigue, light-headedness, headaches and flu-like symptoms.
  • Creosote: Creosote is commonly used to preserve wood in railroad ties and telephone poles but also is used in insecticides, sporicides, fungicides and miticides. Those who work in industries associated with wood preserving are most at risk, but others at risk are those who work with asphalt, tar pitches and rubber, steel and tire production. Accidental ingestion of creosote can cause burning or pain in the mouth, throat or stomach. Long-term exposure can cause respiratory illness and cancer.
  • Lead: Lead poisoning can be caused by the inhalation of dust or the consumption of lead-based paints. Those at the highest risk of lead poisoning are children age 6 and under because their bodies can absorb lead at a higher rate than adults. Common sources of lead are poorly maintained or newly renovated houses built before 1978. The effects of lead poisoning include nervous disorders, behavioral problems, brain injuries, learning disabilities, underdeveloped growth, loss of hearing, seizures, convulsions, coma and death.

Last update: Sept. 25, 2008

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