Toxic chemicals and fumes present some of the greatest risks for workers in a broad range of industries and occupations. With many toxic chemicals, even acute temporary exposure can cause severe burns and other injuries. When workers experience continuous exposure over time, various harmful substances can cause cancers, tissue degeneration and other lifelong (and potentially life-threatening) effects.
If you have been diagnosed with an injury or disease linked to toxic chemical exposure at work, we want to help you fight for just compensation. If you are unable to work due to an injury or disease, your losses (both financial and non-financial) could be far greater than you realize, and you need to have a clear understanding of your rights so that you can make informed decisions. At Jackowiak Law Offices, we help workers in the Chicago area collect financial compensation for the effects of occupational illnesses. With decades of experience and millions of dollars recovered, our Chicago work injury lawyer knows what it means for injured and sick workers to win just compensation, and we are prepared to do whatever it takes to win for you and your family.
Common Causes of Disease from Toxic Chemical Exposure
Toxic chemical exposure is a risk in all types of work environments. While most exposure injuries and illnesses occur in factories, refineries and other industrial sites where hazardous materials are manufactured or used, even office workers can suffer from exposure to dangerous chemicals, materials and fumes.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Chemical agents are the main cause of occupational skin diseases and disorders[, and these are the second most-common type of occupational disease in the United States]. These agents are divided into two types: primary irritants and sensitizers. Primary or direct irritants act directly on the skin though chemical reactions. Sensitizers may not cause immediate skin reactions, but repeated exposure can result in allergic reactions.”
Along with occupational skin diseases and disorders, one of the main risks associated with toxic chemical exposure at work is the risk of cancer, respiratory disease and other serious illnesses. Some of the most-common causes of these exposure-related medical conditions include:
- Carbon monoxide
- Diesel exhaust
- Hazardous waste
- Industrial pollutants
- Toxic mold
Also according to the CDC, workers in the following industries are among those who are at the greatest risk for being diagnosed with diseases, disorders and other illnesses due to toxic chemical exposure:
- Food service
- Health care
Symptoms of Toxic Chemical Exposure
If you are concerned that you may have been exposed to a harmful chemical substance at work, it is important that you seek medical attention right away. Obtaining a prompt diagnosis and beginning treatment right away can be critical to preventing the spread of certain types of exposure-related diseases; and, our Chicago work injury lawyer knows that for purposes of seeking financial compensation, you will need to be able to show that you are receiving treatment for a work-related medical condition. Some (but not all) of the symptoms of toxic chemical exposure include:
- Coughing and sore throat
- Dry, flaking or cracking skin
- Itching and burning sensations
- Nausea and vomiting
- Redness, swelling and blistering of the skin
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Unexplained weight loss or loss of appetite
The nature and severity of symptoms will vary depending upon the extent of your exposure and the specific irritant or toxic substance to which you were exposed. However, due to the potential for long-term health risks, if you have any concerns about possible toxic chemical exposure, you should see a doctor as soon as possible.
Our Chicago Work Injury Lawyer Provides Answers to Your FAQs
Q: What types of illnesses and diseases can be linked to toxic chemical exposure?
The list of illnesses and diseases that can be linked to toxic chemical exposure in the workplace is extensive. While certain conditions are linked to specific substances, some of the most-common types of occupational illnesses and diseases include:
- Carbon monoxide poisoning
- Lead poisoning
- Lung, bladder and liver cancer
- Mercury poisoning
- Respiratory disease
- Sick building syndrome
- Skin cancer
- Thallium poisoning
You can learn more about the various types of cancer linked to toxic chemical exposure in the CDC’s publication, Chemicals, Cancer, and You.
Q: What types of compensation are available to employees with injuries and illnesses from toxic chemical exposure?
The types of compensation available to you will depend upon a variety of factors. These include: (i) your employment status (whether you are an “employee” or “independent contractor”), (ii) the cause of the exposure incident, and (iii) the immediate and long-term effects of your exposure. Generally speaking, however, workers suffering from toxic chemical exposure may be eligible to file claims for:
- Workers’ compensation
- Premises liability
- Products liability
Workers’ compensation is a “no-fault” system, which means that you can seek benefits (if you are eligible) regardless of whether your employer is to blame for what happened. However, since workers’ compensation benefits are limited by Illinois law, it is imperative that you explore your other options as well.
Q: How can I tell if my medical condition is the result of toxic chemical exposure at work?
In order to determine the cause of your symptoms, you will need to obtain a medical diagnosis. You should tell your doctor about any chemicals or other toxic substances you may have been exposed to at work, since there are tests that can be used to identify specific harmful substances in the body. In Illinois, you can choose your own doctor for treatment of work-related injuries and illnesses. If you are not sure where to go, we will be more than happy to provide you with a referral.
Speak With a Chicago Work Injury Lawyer for Free
If you are concerned about toxic chemical exposure at work, we encourage you to contact us immediately to schedule a free initial consultation. You can reach us 24/7, and we will make arrangements for you to meet with a Chicago work injury lawyer as soon as possible. Call our Chicago law offices at (312) 795-9595, or tell us how we can help online today.