Benzene, Creosote, Vinyl Chloride, MTBE, TCE

There is a whole collection of chemicals, many used or encountered in the home or neighborhood, that is responsible for catastrophic illnesses. Environmental Litigation Group, P.C. successfully pursues cases nationwide on behalf of those suffering from illnesses resulting from exposure to these toxins.

Benzene

Benzene is found in the air from emissions from burning coal and oil, gasoline service stations, and motor vehicle exhaust.

Short-term (acute) inhalation exposure to benzene may cause drowsiness, dizziness and headaches, as well as eye, skin, and respiratory tract irritation. At high levels, unconsciousness may occur.

Long-term (chronic) inhalation exposure has caused various disorders in the blood, including reduced numbers of red blood cells and aplastic anemia. Reproductive effects have been reported in women exposed to high inhalation levels, and adverse effects on the developing fetus have been observed in animal tests. Increased incidences of leukemia have been observed in humans exposed to benzene on their jobs.

Creosote

Creosote is the name used for wood creosote, coal tar creosote, coal tar, coal tar pitch, and coal tar pitch volatiles. These products are mixtures of many chemicals created by high-temperature treatment of beech and other woods, coal, or from the resin of the creosote bush.

Breathing vapors of the creosotes, coal tar, coal tar pitch, or coal tar pitch volatiles can cause irritation of the respiratory tract. Long-term exposure, especially direct contact with skin during wood treatment or manufacture of coal tar creosote-treated products, has resulted in various types of skin cancer.

Vinyl Chloride

Vinyl Chloride is an industrial chemical used to create plastics. Contact with vinyl chloride can have serious health consequences. Their severity depends upon both the level and the length of exposure.

Short-term exposure to moderate levels of vinyl chloride in the air can result in headache, vertigo, loss of consciousness, and fatigue. Nervous system damage is also possible. Breathing high levels of vinyl chloride can cause you to feel dizzy or sleepy or may cause you to pass out. Exposure to an excessive amount of vinyl chloride can be deadly.

Physical contact with vinyl chloride can cause blistering, irritation, and loss of sensation in the skin. As a toxic chemical, vinyl chloride can also cause long-lasting and chronic conditions. Aside from being a known carcinogen, vinyl chloride has been found to cause a number of other conditions, including:

  • Reynaud’s syndrome compromises the blood flow to the fingers and toes. The reduced circulation can cause pain, numbness, and impaired function, especially in cold temperatures.
  • Scleroderma is a condition in which the skin, most frequently on the hands, hardens and thickens.
  • Acroosteolysis is a condition in which the bones (especially in the fingers) deteriorate.
  • Angiosarcoma of the liver, a rare form of liver cancer, begins with the formation of a cancerous tumor in the blood vessels of the liver.

In addition, vinyl chloride represents the only established cause of cancerous brain tumors. Researchers have also linked leukemia, a cancer that affects the blood and blood-forming organs, to vinyl chloride exposure. Other cancers linked to vinyl chloride include lung cancer, stomach, and intestinal cancer. In addition, the nervous, circulatory, and reproductive systems can suffer harm as a result of exposure to vinyl chloride. In general, those exposed to high levels of vinyl chloride or those exposed over a long period of time are at the highest risk for these and other health effects.

MTBE

Methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE) is a gasoline additive and industrial solvent. This compound is not a naturally occurring component of gasoline but is an additive, which has been used since 1979. It was originally used to help gasoline burn more smoothly and efficiently after lead was phased out of motor fuels. Starting in 1992 in cooperation with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, petroleum companies started adding MTBE to gasoline to improve combustion and decrease harmful carbon monoxide emissions from motor vehicles, especially in the winter months.

Exposure to MTBE from gasoline can occur when living near bulk gasoline loading and unloading facilities or near facilities that can leak gasoline from underground storage containers. In many of these situations, the most detrimental form of exposure is the inhalation of MTBE-contaminated air. However, it is also absorbed through contact with the skin. Contamination of the groundwater near storage facilities can also result in exposure from tap water.

TCE

The chemical compound trichloroethylene is a chlorinated hydrocarbon commonly used as an industrial solvent. It is a clear non-flammable liquid with a sweet smell. TCE is also known as trichloroethene and tri, and it is sold under a variety of trade names. In medicine, it was commonly referred to as trilene and trimar during its use as a general anesthetic.

When inhaled, trichloroethylene depresses the central nervous system. Its symptoms are similar to those of alcohol intoxication, beginning with headache, dizziness, and confusion and progressing with increasing exposure to unconsciousness and death. Caution should be exercised anywhere a high concentration of trichloroethylene vapors may be present, because it quickly desensitizes the nose to its scent, and it is possible to unknowingly inhale harmful or even lethal amounts of the vapor -- that is, it has poor warning properties.

The long-term effects of trichloroethylene on human beings are unknown. In animal studies, chronic trichloroethylene exposure has produced liver cancer in mice, but not in rats. Studies on its effects on reproduction in animals have been similarly inconsistent, and so no conclusive statements about its ability to cause birth defects in humans can be made.