Three Common Harmful Substances and Signs of Exposure

In our modern world, technological and medical advancements protect us from disease. But the modern world also increases your risk of exposure to dangerous chemicals and materials.

What are these substances, and how do you know if they’ve affected you? Let’s look more closely at three of the most common dangerous substances in our environment and signs that you may be at risk.

1. Asbestos

Asbestos is a material used in a wide variety of applications, including pipe insulation, drywall, flooring, ceiling insulation, and roofing. But asbestos comes with many health risks. In fact, in ship building alone, asbestos exposure has caused the deaths of 100,000 Americans.

Asbestos exposure causes two diseases: asbestosis and mesothelioma. Asbestosis is characterized by inflammation and scarring of the lung tissue. The most common symptom is shortness of breath, especially while exercising.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for asbestosis. Oxygen therapy and medications may lower the symptoms.

Even more dangerous than asbestosis, mesothelioma is a cancer that affects the lining of the lungs and chest wall. Symptoms include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Cough
  • Exhaustion
  • Weight loss
  • Swollen abdomen
  • Chest wall pain

Treatment for mesothelioma may include surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy.

Those who are constantly exposed to asbestos at work are most at risk for health problems. However, you may also get exposed to asbestos in your home. In the 1970s, asbestos was discontinued as a building material. If you have an older home, find out if asbestos is present and, if so, consider having it removed by a professional.

2. Pesticides

Exterminators use pesticides to kill insects and other pests at your home or business. However, certain types of pesticides can cause health problems, especially if you are exposed to a large amount of these substances.

Some pesticide-related health effects are milder, like nausea, headache, and fatigue. More severe symptoms include:

  • Vomiting
  • Lack of muscle coordination
  • Mental confusion
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Muscle twitching
  • Unconsciousness

In some cases, people experience symptoms of pesticide exposure right away. In other cases, people don’t experience symptoms for hours or even years after the exposure.

To avoid pesticide exposure, consider using non-toxic solutions to control insects. You could set traps or sprinkle diatomaceous earth. If you experience symptoms from pesticide exposure, seek medical help immediately.

3. Paint Fumes

The paint you use to decorate your home may contain harmful substances called volatile organic compounds
(VOCs). VOCs are also found in some lacquers, varnishes, glues, cosmetics, and cleaning products.

When these substances release into the air, they can cause serious side effects such as:

  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Irritation in the eyes, nose, and throat
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Visual problems

Exposure can cause long-term damage to the kidney, liver, and nervous system. It could even cause asthma and cancer.

VOCs are in their highest concentration when paint is wet. You shouldn’t paint if you are pregnant or younger than 18. Best of all, you can choose non-toxic, VOC-free paint, and insist that any painters you hire do the same.

What Can You Do If You Are Exposed to These Substances?

Seeking medical treatment is the most important step to relieve health conditions caused by these substances.

But what if someone else is responsible for your exposure to asbestos, pesticides, and paint fumes? For example, a construction company or an extermination company’s negligence could have caused or contributed to your health problems. By working with a lawyer, you may be able to obtain compensation to cover your medical costs and missed time from work.

If you think you have a case, contact Robert Kornfeld for a consultation by calling (425) 657-5255. A lawyer can examine your evidence and help determine whether you have a case worth pursuing.

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