Toxic exposure to dangerous chemicals can cause serious injuries if chemical exposure occurs in low doses over a long period, or in a high concentration during a single incident. Toxic or chemical exposure can happen at the workplace or in the environment, such as the result of an environmental disaster, and can cause severe lung injury, lung disease, cancer, or other serious injury or chronic illness.
Toxic exposure from coming in contact with chemical, biological, or physical toxins in the air, water, food, or soil can have a harmful effect on human health. Environmental exposure can occur when industries willfully pollute waterways, or during and after environmental disasters. Our team of lawyers stands ready to assist, from helping individual communities, cities and towns to representing states and regions against companies responsible for environmental damage.
BP Oil Spill
On April 20, 2010, a massive offshore oil rig known as the Deepwater Horizon, owned and operated by Transocean in the Gulf of Mexico and under lease to oil giant BP, exploded and caught fire in the Gulf of Mexico, about 50 miles from Louisiana’s coastal wetlands. Firefighters and the U.S. Coast Guard fought for two days to contain the fire, but the rig sank on April 22, releasing nearly a million gallons of diesel fuel into the Gulf waters and creating an unstoppable leak of crude that eventually became the biggest oil disaster the U.S. has ever seen, Toxic tort lawyers from Beasley Allen Law Firm represented the State of Alabama as well as thousands of businesses and individuals in litigation seeking to hold BP accountable for damages resulting from the oil spill.
Coal Ash Spill
On Dec. 22, 2008, a coal ash impoundment at the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) Kingston Fossil Plant ruptured sending a deluge of toxic slurry onto more than 300 acres and into nearby waterways, becoming the largest industrial accident in U.S. history. The health and environmental ramifications from the TVA spill were enormous and clean-up cost more than $1 billion and nearly a decade to complete. The TVA later agreed to pay $27.8 million to the victims of the massive coal ash spill.
A community’s water supply can become contaminated by nearby industries and result in toxic exposure. As a result, state and municipal water systems are left struggling with costly upgrades to water filtration systems, while residents in their community are unable to drink their tap water for fear of water contamination. Beasley Allen works to hold the companies that pollute the water system responsible for paying for the cleanup. In 2003, our firm helped bring a $700 million verdict for PCB contamination for more than 20,000 current and former residents of Calhoun County, Alabama—the largest private environmental settlement in U.S. history at the time. In addition to filing claims for individuals, our firm also represents state and municipal governments in litigation of this type.
Working in certain industries can put you at risk for exposure to hazardous substances including chemical exposure. Harmful chemicals or toxins get into your body if you breathe, eat, or drink them, or if they are absorbed through your skin. Sometimes illness occurs immediately after exposure. Oftentimes, illness happens years or even decades later.
People who worked in petrochemicals production, oil and gas refining, coke and coal chemical manufacturing, rubber tire manufacturing, and storage or transport of benzene and petroleum products containing benzene, have a high likelihood of chronic benzene exposure. Exposure to the chemical either by inhalation or skin absorption can cause life-threatening diseases including acute myeloid leukemia (AML), myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), lymphomas and aplastic anemia. It can take years for a benzene-related illness to appear.
Monsanto’s widely used weed killer Roundup contains the active ingredient glyphosate, a probable carcinogen as defined by the World Health Organization. Exposure to glyphosate has been linked to cases of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Landscapers, farmers, groundskeepers, and even garden hobbyists are at risk for glyphosate exposure from Roundup use.
Asbestos is a mineral that was widely used in construction, shipbuilding and friction materials. It’s also a known carcinogen, linked to a chronic lung inflammation called asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma, a rare but deadly form of cancer that develops in the lining of internal organs like the lungs and abdomen. It can take up to 50 years for asbestos-related diseases to be diagnosed. Millions of people may have been exposed to asbestos, especially in the workplace, including miners, factory workers, insulation manufacturers and installers, railroad and automotive works, shipbuilders, plumbers, construction workers, and veterans. About a third of the 2,500 malignant mesothelioma diagnoses each year affect Veterans.
One-time Release Toxic Chemicals
Severe lung injuries may result from a single exposure to a toxic substance. Sometimes, accidents or product defects may result in a one-time or short-term exposure to a very high concentration of chemicals or toxic substances that can cause severe, often irreversible injuries. These injuries may include death or permanent diminishment or loss of eyesight, lung function, taste, smell or mobility. Chemicals most often associated with this category of injury are:
- Chlorine and chlorine gas
- Vinyl Acetate
- Petroleum Hydrocarbons in the oil field industry
- High concentrate acids
Workplace Exposure Injuries
- Mesothelioma – caused by exposure to asbestos, a mineral widely used in construction, shipbuilding, and friction products.
- Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma – caused by glyphosate, the active ingredient in the weed killer Roundup.
- Acute Myeloid Leukemia – caused by benzene, a chemical used in petrochemicals production, oil and gas refining, coke and coal chemical manufacturing, and rubber tire manufacturing.
- Bronchiolitis Obliterans, a.k.a. Popcorn Lung – caused by exposure to Diacetyl, or chemicals associated with Diacetyl, including alpha-diketone, 2,3-butanedione, or Chemical Abstracts Service Number 431-0308. The dreadful disease can also be caused by exposure to fiberglass and/or styrene during the manufacturing process.
- Coal Worker’s Pneumoconiosis, a.k.a. Black Lung – caused by exposure to coal dust.
- Hypersensitivity Pneumonitis (HP) – general category of interstitial lung diseases caused by an immune response to an inhaled substance, including diacetyl, mold, dust and wood.
- Kidney Cancer – caused by exposure to trichloroethylene or TCE, used as an industrial solvent.
- Lead Poisoning – high levels of lead exposure can cause a number of serios, permanent injuries, particularly in children, who can suffer irreversible brain damage.
Toxic Exposure Lawyer
Toxic exposure can cause devastating health effects and leave victims with mounting medical bills, and Beasley Allen aims to hold those responsible for toxic exposure accountable. Beasley Allen lawyers in our Toxic Torts Section work to protect people and property from toxic chemicals and environmental pollution that result from negligence and wrongful conduct. Our lawyers are currently handling cases of injury or death either due to environmental exposure or occupational exposure. If you have any questions about a potential claim, please contact Rhon Jones, Rick Stratton, or Ryan Kral, who handle toxic exposure for our firm.