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An environmental injury is any harm caused to a person by toxic exposure or pollution in a person’s environment. These injuries can be slow developing over time, such as those caused by exposure to lead paint or asbestos in a home, or as a result of a single incident as in the case of an industrial accident like a plant explosion.
A large variety of pollutants can contaminate the water, air, or soil and can lead to a serious affliction or even death in extreme cases. Many times these pollutants exist due to another party’s negligence, whether it’s a large company dumping toxic chemicals into a local water supply, chemical plant explosions, or an apartment complex neglecting to deal with toxic mold. An environmental injury can include any of the following:
- Lead Poisoning – Lead was once commonly used in home plumbing systems, as well as in many household products including ceramic glazes and lead-based paint. Exposure to levels of lead above the federally defined Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) has been shown to lower one’s IQ, cause learning disabilities, and can retard both physical and mental development. Children under the age of 12 are the most common victims of lead poisoning, and the Center for Disease Control reports that more than 300,000 children in the US have higher levels of this metal showing up in their blood. The EPA has said that lead poisoning in children has become a major environmental related health problem in our country. Old plumbing and paint aren’t the only sources of this type of environmental injury; most recently a large number of toys were recalled from China for containing excessive levels of lead.
- Mesothelioma – Mesothelioma, more properly called malignant mesothelioma, is a rare type of cancer that is usually caused by asbestos. Asbestos can be found in older homes which used it as insulation prior to the ban of asbestos, or in many industrial products such as brake linings, cement, and gaskets. Even as little as one to three months of exposure to asbestos can increase a person’s risk of cancer, but it can take decades for symptoms of mesothelioma to present themselves. The time from exposure to first symptoms of the disease is almost never less than fifteen years and can even take as long as 30-40 years. Those who work with asbestos are at the greatest risk of mesothelioma, but their loved ones can be at an increased risk of this type of environmental injury as well due to fibers carried home in clothing or hair.
- Oil Spill Injuries – Over one thousand hydrocarbons are present in crude oil, including the known carcinogens benzene and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Those who live near the coast may risk environmental injury as a result of an oil spill, but cleanup workers are most at risk for long term health effects. Oil spill injuries can present themselves as respiratory ailments, elevated blood pressure, and chemical burns from the chemicals used to clean up the spill.
- Toxic Mold. Mold, also commonly called mildew, is a type of fungus that develops in damp places. Mold that develops toxins and myotoxins are considered to be toxic mold. The spores released by the mold are the risk as once they become airborne they may be inhaled, causing lung inflammation or other health problems including excessive allergies. Prolonged exposure to toxic mold can cause a large variety of illnesses and can be prevented in many cases by insurance companies who fail to honor a claim, or a property-owner who undertakes inadequate eradication measures.
Hiring an environmental injury attorney that is knowledgeable in these types of cases can be the first step in receiving the necessary help. No one should have to suffer at the fault of someone else, and getting proper representation will make sure those that are at fault will be held accountable.