Workplace Toxic Exposure and Health Impact

Many people are employed in workplaces where harmful or hazardous materials are used. If they come in contact with or are absorbed into the body, through inhalation of fumes, contact with the skin, or other types of body contact, a person may become seriously ill. However, when determining the health impact of certain materials at work, one must distinguish between toxic and hazardous.

What Is Toxicity?

Toxicity means that the material causes an unwanted effect when the substances reach a certain level of concentration at a particular site in the body.

If a material is high in toxicity, then just a small dose may be necessary for a body to absorb before it causes harm in some way. The lower the level of the toxicity of the substance, the greater amount of substance needs to be absorbed to cause toxicity.

What Is Hazardous?

A hazard is a probability that a toxic concentration in a person’s body will actually happen. For example, a material can be toxic by its nature, but not hazardous if all safety rules are followed and the material does not come into contact with the body.

Two liquid compounds may be equally toxic but have different degrees of hazard associated with each. For example, the first material may not irritate the nose or eyes and have no smell, as in the case of gas. The other may irritate eyes and nose and have a strong smell. In this case, the first material is more hazardous, because people have no ability to know when they have been exposed.

Toxicant Routes of Entry to Body

A toxic substance can enter the body through:

  • Ingestion – swallowing the toxic material
  • Skin or eye absorption – contact with the toxic material
  • Inhalation – breathing the toxic material

Chronic and Acute Health Impact of Toxic Exposure

A toxic substance can have immediate effects or it may take a long time to actually present the effects. For example, acid spilled on skin will immediately burn the skin. However, asbestos exposure or tobacco smoke exposure can take a much longer time to impact the health, in some case as much as 20 years.

What Type of Exposure?

On the job, you may have been exposed to a dose of toxic material once, or you may have experienced chronic exposure that has built up toxicity over time. In a one-time exposure, or an acute exposure, the dose and absorption into the body is quick. Chronic exposure is generally a low does that builds over time.

Some materials, however, may not cause toxicity over the long term, but they may have impact if a person suffers a high dose all at once.

Certain types of toxins include:

  • Carcinogens
  • Mutagens
  • Asphyxiants
  • Narcotics
  • Systemic poisons
  • Nephrotoxic agents
  • Sensitizers
  • Teratogens

Are you dealing with health troubles related to toxic exposure in the workplace?

Email or Call 800-404-5299 or 856-234-2233 for a Free Consultation with a Workers Compensation and Personal Injury Attorney – New Jersey

If you or a loved one has been exposed to a toxic chemical that has cost you your health or caused you to suffer in some other way, a workers’ compensation and personal injury lawyer at Taylor & Boguski in Mount Laurel, New Jersey, can help you understand your rights, including rights to sue for damages or to obtain lost wages. We offer a free, private consultation where you can get your questions answered and your case will be evaluated.