Workplace chemical exposure can leave individuals with a wide range of side effects. Some exposures can happen suddenly and cause immediate and severe health issues, while others can occur slowly over time. Regardless of how chemicals are absorbed or ingested into the body, they are capable of causing severe and long-term health effects.
Most chemical toxins can be classified into groups such as irritants, narcotics, systemic poisons, sensitizers, carcinogens, mutagens and teratogenic substances. Each classification has key symptoms and side effects that can be attributed to the chemical exposure.
Irritants directly cause inflammation and/or chemical burns of the eyes, skin, nose, throat, lungs and other tissues of the body that may come in contact with the chemical substance. Some strong irritants such as strongly concentrated acids can be dangerously corrosive, rapidly causing second and third degree chemical burns when in contact with the skin and severe lung and respiratory injury when inhaled. If ingested, the mouth, throat, stomach or intestinal tract can be severely harmed. Even milder agents can cause severely inflamed skin or eyes, as well as minor burns.
An asphyxiant is a type of chemical exposure that displaces the oxygen within the system, causing asphyxiation. For example, carbon monoxide combines with and prohibits the blood from transporting oxygen to the lungs and other organs. This exposure can cause an individual to lose consciousness and may even be fatal. Asphyxiation has four stages:
- Stage 1 – involves an increased pulse and breathing rate with disturbed muscular coordination.
- Stage 2 – faulty judgment, rapid fatigue and insensitivity to pain.
- Stage 3 – nausea and vomiting, loss of consciousness, potentially permanent brain damage.
- Stage 4 – convulsion, inability to breathe and rapidly fatal.
Sensitizers are a type of hazardous material that may not present a danger in the first exposure, but repeated exposure could prove highly dangerous or even deadly. Individuals exposed to these types of workplace chemicals can become extremely allergic and must exercise extreme caution if they ever come in repeated contact.
Workplace chemical exposure can have a wide variety of health effects. If you or someone you love has experienced an occupational illness or injury from chemical exposure, call our experienced workers’ compensation team today at 888-807-WORK (9675) for a free consultation.