Chemical exposure in the workplace poses a significant risk to all workers and can cause everything from skin problems to respiratory illnesses. As of 2014, roughly 8.8% of all work-related fatalities were attributed to exposure to toxic chemicals. One of the most serious risks is the potential for the development of cancer which can take years, even decades to manifest itself following exposure.
Cancers Caused by Chemical Exposures
Chemical exposure can have a significant effect on the development of certain types of cancers. The following are common cancers caused by chemical exposures in the workplace.
Lung Cancer – Lung cancer can result in exposure to asbestos, arsenic, chromium, tars, and silica. These elements are commonly used in construction, coal/oil processing, and metal refineries.
Bladder Cancer – Bladder cancer can result from exposure to toxic fumes emitted during the production of aluminum, processing rubber, or in tanneries.
Nasal Cancer – Exposure to formaldehyde, wood dust, or high levels of isopropyl alcohol can lead to the development of nasal cancer.
Larynx/Pharynx Cancer – Cancers of the larynx or pharynx can be caused by exposure to asbestos, isopropyl alcohol.
Mesothelioma – One of the more commonly known work-related cancers, mesothelioma results from exposure to asbestos. It is commonly seen in ship workers, construction personnel, and HVAC workers.
Lymphatic and Blood Cancers – Cancers of the lymphatic system and blood can be caused by exposure to benzene, herbicides, or x-ray equipment.
Skin Cancer – Exposure to arsenic, sunlight, or coal tar can cause skin cancer. This is common in industries such as landscaping and construction where workers are often tasked with working outside for long periods of time and with little protection from the sun’s rays.
Liver Cancer – Exposures to arsenic are common in mining, the manufacturing of electronic components, and wood processing. Further, exposure to vinyl chloride is common in the production of PVC plastics. Exposure to either arsenic or vinyl chloride can lead to the development of liver cancer.
Workers’ Compensation for Cancer Claims
In order for an employee to receive workers’ compensation for a cancer-related claim, it must be clearly established that the cancer is the direct result of a workplace exposure. Cancers and other diseases caused by chemical exposures are covered under the Occupational Disease Act. A workers comp attorney in Illinois can help individuals dealing with work-related cancers pursue their claims. These claims can require extensive research to establish a direct link between an individual’s employment and the development of cancer.