Every few years it seems that another bombshell is revealed about toxic and harmful substances in the water we drink, the air we breathe, the walls of our homes and in the food that we grow. The more we learn about the effects of these exposures, the more we find that chemical plants, factories, railroad yards, electrical towers, transformers, landfills, mines and hospitals can all be sources for toxicity.
The truly shocking thing that we have learned through all of this is that the companies and authorities responsible for such exposures almost never seek to rectify their wrongs — instead such wrongdoers have repeatedly lied about the safety of the chemicals they deal in and sought to cover up any proof to the contrary.
In most cases, the only defense that workers in toxic industries and users of their products have available to them is the toxic tort lawsuit. Such lawsuits can do their best to compensate for the grievous harm that often accompanies such industrial exposures, and help to ensure that the offending party safeguards against future tragedies.
The Most Dangerous Substances and Exposures
The more we learn about the long-term effects of certain chemicals, the more we can look back on the commonplace exposures of the past and understand the risks they carry. When the risks consumers and workers take in good faith are met with bad faith on the part of the companies and authorities they rely on, it can be a toxic combination.
The following examples cover some of the most shocking cases of exposure, which ordinary Americans never realized they were subjecting themselves to at the time:
- Asbestos: Asbestos-related illnesses often take 20-50 years to develop, which means most cases diagnosed in the U.S. were caused by asbestos exposures that occurred before modern safety regulations came into effect.
- Benzene: A colorless liquid which evaporates quickly, benzene exposure can come from both cigarette smoke and exposure in fields like dry cleaning and manufacturing.
- Carbon monoxide: Carbon monoxide is another silent killer, which properly functioning detectors and venting are expected to prevent.
- Legionnaires’ disease: Legionnaires’ disease is caused by a water-borne bacterium that can be transmitted through air conditioning and showers.
- Monsanto Roundup Weed Killer: In 2019, Monsanto was ordered to pay $2 billion in damages for its cancer-causing weed killer in a single case; 5,000 similar cases await adjudication.
- Pediatric lead poisoning: According to the CDC, at least 4 million households currently have children living in them who are being exposed to high levels of lead.
- Popcorn lung: Exposure to high levels of the chemical which gives microwave popcorn its buttery, rich taste can cause popcorn lung, a rare but lethal form of non-reversible obstructive lung disease.
The Most Common Diseases Associated with Chemical Exposure
Chemical and industrial exposure can make itself known over the course of a lifetime — many times, people affected by these exposures no longer work at the companies responsible or live in the homes or areas affected. The fact that the diseases which result are uniformly serious worsens their predicament.
The following diseases are all linked to such exposures:
- Lung disease
- Hodgkin’s disease
- Aplastic anemia
Why Toxic Tort Cases Can Be Challenging
Toxic tort cases represent two interrelated challenges for plaintiffs.
The first challenge lies in establishing causality between a chemical or industrial exposure and an injury. As most harmful exposures only manifest injury in a timeframe of decades — in some cases genetic damage will even show up in the children of those exposed — demonstrating a connection between the exposure and the injury can be a very difficult problem.
The second difficulty is proving that the defendant named in the lawsuit was responsible for the injured party’s exposure. When you add in the fact that these exposures have often come by way of products marketed for decades to millions, there’s a strong incentive for their producers to deny any culpability in the strongest manner possible.
When to Consult with an Experienced Toxic Tort Lawyer
While it’s possible for individuals to navigate some areas of personal injury law on their own, a toxic tort is almost always complex and will require the kind of expert and professional legal counsel that McEldrew Purtell specializes in.
If you or your family have been a victim of a toxic tort and industrial exposure injury, we would like to discuss your case with you and answer any questions you may have. We are fully committed to helping victims recover the full value of their losses. Every client we serve benefits from prompt and direct access to the founding attorneys, so the guidance you receive is that of a seasoned professional with an outstanding reputation for results and integrity.