10 myths about neurotoxicity and chemical exposure debunked

By Shaniqua Williams

Posted on April 24th, 2021

Exposure to toxic agents may result in neurotoxicity, which is often very difficult to diagnose in people who struggle with it due to the vagueness of the symptoms. However, by visiting multiple specialists that have expertise in toxicology, you can receive a correct and accurate diagnosis.

By now, it is a known fact that exposure to hazardous chemicals may result in neurotoxicity. Neurotoxicity is the poisoning of the brain and the nervous system that causes a wide range of symptoms that may seem vague and unconnected at first glance. Some of the most common symptoms of neurotoxicity are chronic pain, anxiety, confusion, memory problems, headaches, concentration problems and sleep disorders. Because the symptoms of neurotoxicity often seem unrelated, the majority of medical professionals find it challenging to assign a correct diagnosis. For this reason, if you were exposed to a toxin, it is essential to seek a second and even a third opinion, preferably from experts in neurotoxicity.

It is important to know that if you have this diagnosis, you are not eligible for compensation, as neurotoxicity does not have a definitive causal relation with exposure to PFAS. Nevertheless, if you have another diagnosis that qualifies you for filing a toxic exposure claim, you are entitled to financial compensation, which our skilful and resourceful legal team can help you recover from the liable companies. Most of our clients are members of the military who were exposed to the PFAS, a group of toxic chemicals, from aqueous film-forming foam, a fire suppressant commonly known as AFFF, on various military bases throughout the country. The following are 10 myths about neurotoxicity and chemical exposure debunked, which should help you provide the medical professionals who examine you with evidence of the connection between chemical exposure and your potential diagnosis of neurotoxicity.

1. This chemical cannot damage your health

The Material Safety Data Sheet, which is required by law of every manufacturer of chemicals, should be the starting point for you to document your toxic exposure, as it often lists the adverse health effects of the product you were exposed to, which may include neurotoxicity. However, in some cases, the Material Safet Data Sheet does not mention any of the health dangers associated with the product in question, which is why you will need to conduct additional research to document the connection between your chemical exposure and neurotoxicity.

2. If the product I was exposed to causes neurotoxicity, it would not be on the market

The truth is that there are hundreds of neurotoxic products that are promoted and sold throughout the United States. Over 850 commercial and industrial chemicals are known to cause neurobehavioral disorders. To ensure their financial profit, a large number of companies include toxic agents in their products, which are often cheap alternatives to higher-quality and safer chemicals. Consequently, neurotoxicity can be the result of exposure to commercial and industrial chemicals.

3. Up to 95% of the ingredients in the product are inert, which is why it cannot lead to neurotoxicity

While the majority of the ingredients in a chemical product may be inert, which means that they are not active ingredients, 5% are active ingredients, exposure to which can result in neurotoxicity, as they are often very potent and dangerous even in small amounts. Furthermore, some inert ingredients may be even more toxic than the active ingredients in a chemical product. By labeling some ingredients "inert", companies may be trying to avoid admitting that there is a risk of developing neurotoxicity and other serious health problems following exposure to their product. The manufacturers call this a "trade secret". If you want to document your neurotoxicity, you will need to obtain a list of the inert ingredients by subpoena and have a laboratory analyze the product.

4. The product does not exceed the government standards for exposure

The alleged safe level of exposure is actually a compromise between the commercial needs of certain industries and consumer protection, which does not guarantee that neurotoxicity cannot develop in a person who is exposed to the chemical product. These standards usually become stricter with every passing decade and it is incidents of reported chemical injury that are what cause them to undergo changes. Additionally, safe levels are often set to protect the health of male workers, which makes more vulnerable people, such as women, more susceptible to developing neurotoxicity and other health issues. Lastly, there may be no safe amount of chemicals that a person can inhale.

5. The level of chemical exposure was far too low to cause neurotoxicity

In fact, chronic exposure to low levels of some chemicals can prove to be more detrimental to your health than a single acute exposure, since brain damage is cumulative over the years. Thereby, frequent exposure to products that contain a low amount of dangerous chemicals can result in neurotoxicity.

6. Just inhaling the chemical could not have caused neurotoxicity

The truth is that inhalation and skin contact are more effective routes of entry for a poison than ingestion, as when a toxic substance is swallowed, it is partly neutralized by stomach acids. Subsequently, the body strives to detoxify it through the liver, kidneys and other organs. However, inhalation and skin contact allow a substance to enter the bloodstream directly, without any filtering. This is why medical professionals use skin patches to administer morphine and birth control. Similarly, sniffing glue results in a feeling of instantaneous high and causes immediate and permanent brain damage.

7. A neurologist found nothing wrong with my brain

Since very few neurologists have proper training in toxicity, it should come as no surprise that they fail to recognize neurotoxicity for what it is so often. For this reason, a patient who suggests that their symptoms may have been caused by chemical exposure may be met with a brick wall of denial. To make matters worse, some neurologists will not even pay attention to the health of the patient unless they experience extreme symptoms, such as not being able to tell whether it is day or night or not being able to walk in a straight line. Even then, the neurologist may misdiagnose the patient as normal, although neuropsychological testing found serious functional deficits. Therefore, in order to receive the correct diagnosis of neurotoxicity, you must undergo a neuropsychological examination led by a medical professional who has solid training in toxicity and who knows how to recognize it.

8. Chronic pain is not a symptom of neurotoxicity

While the term "chronic pain" may seem vague and outside the realm of most doctors, the symptom can most definitely be a sign of neurotoxicity in a person who was exposed to hazardous chemicals. Damage to the nervous system can disrupt the nerve signals themselves or the way the brain interprets those signals. The resulting sensations can be tingling, burning or debilitating pain, which some people with chronic pain describe as "like a thousand razor blades". Moreover, chronic pain can be a dire ordeal and may require very strong painkillers whose side effects could cause even more damage.

9. It is ridiculous to believe that chemical exposure can result in such disparate symptoms

Since the brain and the nervous system control all body functions, it is not surprising that neurotoxicity can cause the patient to experience symptoms such as insomnia, chronic fatigue and gastrointestinal problems. The autonomic nervous system is in charge of the involuntary part of bodily processes, including digestion, blood circulation and the "fight or flight" response.

10. Multiple chemical sensitivity does not exist

This is another false statement, as pertinent medical studies found that up to 16% of the population of the United States experiences unusual reactions to exposure to various chemicals. Furthermore, approximately 6% of these people have a multiple chemical sensitivity diagnosis or have been deemed disabled from it.

In conclusion, neurotoxicity can and is often the result of chemical exposure, namely of exposure to the PFAS in AFFF. If you believe you struggle with this condition, we advise you to visit multiple medical specialists, preferably who specialize in neurotoxicity, to receive the correct diagnosis.

Quality legal assistance for people injured by chemical exposure

With over 25 years of experience in pursuing compensation for victims of toxic exposure, our skilful legal team is ready to provide you with the assistance you need to recover the money you deserve for your diagnosis if it is the result of military chemical exposure. Our attorneys will file a claim with each and every company whose products you were exposed to so that you can benefit from the largest sum of money available for your injury. The only documents we will need from you are your military records, as well as your medical records, which will be used as evidence to support your claim.

It is very important to know that you cannot recover financial compensation for neurotoxicity. If you are a veteran who developed a disease as a result of chemical exposure while on active duty, we will also file a claim with the VA so that you can obtain disability compensation. After you provide us with the necessary documents, our legal experts will conduct research of their own to discover additional proof for your claim, which will guarantee a favorable outcome. Eventually, you will receive the maximum compensation you qualify for if you choose to work with our legal team, which is free of charge unless we recover money on your behalf.