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How Toxic Chemical Exposure Affects Your Body

Everyday activities like eating, drinking, and even breathing can put you into contact with chemicals. While many of the chemicals we are exposed to are safe, others are not.

When these dangerous chemicals build up in your body, the exposure becomes toxic and causes serious health problems. Different chemicals affect each of your body systems in different ways.

The Respiratory System

Your respiratory system takes in oxygen and eliminates carbon dioxide, leaving your entire body oxygenated and refreshed and allowing you to breathe. Central to this system, your lungs are extremely important, and unfortunately, particularly sensitive to toxic chemical exposure.

Chemicals like asbestos and silica can cause asbestosis, silicosis, lung cancer, and other dangerous health conditions. Exposure can happen around old insulation and batteries, mining and construction sites, unvented or faulty furnaces, wood-burning stoves, and car exhaust.

The Renal System

Made of your kidneys, urethra, bladder, and ureter, your renal system is responsible for regulating the amount of salts and fluids in your body and getting rid of waste.

Chemical exposure can decrease blood flow to the kidneys, decrease or prevent the formation and flow of urine, and cause tissue damage and kidney cancer. Possible contaminants include cadmium, lead, mercury, and uranium; and exposure usually occurs near nuclear testing sites, old paint and batteries, outdated plumbing, thermometers, and cigarette smoke. Eating certain types of fish can also expose you to chemicals.

The Cardiovascular System

By pumping blood through your body, your cardiovascular system allows nutrients, gases, and wastes to go to and from the appropriate places. Your heart, blood, arteries, veins, and capillaries also help stabilize body temperature and fight diseases and infection.

When chemicals like carbon monoxide, carbon disulfide, nitrates, and methylene chloride interrupt this system, heart failure, and blood poisoning can occur.

Contaminants can be found in car exhaust, furnaces, industrial production sites, fertilizers, auto parts cleaners, and paint removers.

The Reproductive System

Human beings create new life via their reproductive systems. If your reproductive system is harmed by chemical exposure, you can lose your ability to have children. Damage to this system by contaminants like methyl mercury, carbon monoxide, and lead can also increase the risk of miscarriage, infant death, and birth defects. Coal-burning power, car exhaust, furnaces, old paint, and outdated plumbing are all known to cause this kind of exposure, as well as some fish.

The Nervous System

Your nervous system sends messages to and from your brain and your body via the spinal cord. Damage to your nervous system can result in paralysis, loss of feeling, confusion, sensory degradation, or loss of muscle strength and coordination. Arsenic, cyanide, cadmium, and carbon monoxide are all dangerous to the nervous system and can come from pressure-treated wood, discarded batteries, car exhaust, furnaces, and rat poison.

The Immune System

Comparable to a shield, your immune system protects your body from viruses, bacteria, and malignant cells and substances. When interrupted, this system can overreact to environmental substances, attack itself, become weak, or fail, resulting in allergies or autoimmune disorders.

Chemicals like lead, mercury, pesticides, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons can cause these types of ailments and are frequently found in unwashed fruits and vegetables, contaminated fish, industrial waste, cigarette smoke, vehicle exhaust, asphalt, old paint, thermometers, and outdated plumbing.

The Skin

As your most visible body system, your skin prevents germs and other substances from entering your body, retains your body’s hydration, and regulates body temperature. Contaminants like nickel, chromium, arsenic, mercury, PCBs, and volatile organic compounds can lead to irritation, rash, discoloration, dermatitis, and secondary damage to other systems and organs.

Skin irritants can come from cement, pressure-treated wood, paints, industrial production and waste, some fish, and fumes from gasoline, paint, adhesives, and building supplies.

The Hepatic System

Your liver is the center of your hepatic system, which breaks down food, stores nutrients, purifies the body, and makes blood-clotting proteins.

Carbon tetrachloride, methylene chloride, and vinyl chloride can damage the liver and lead to tumors, steatosis, and death of liver cells. These chemicals come from adhesives, auto part cleaners, paint removers, and pipe sealers.

How Can I Keep Myself Safe?

Don’t panic! If you are exposed to any of the chemicals or situations listed above one time, or even a few times, you are not likely to develop the health conditions we’ve discussed. However, if you work in environments where you are regularly exposed to chemicals, you should be aware that your on-the-job exposure could put you at risk.

If you work on a construction site, industrial park, or oil field, or even in an auto shop, factory or manufacturing plant, talk to your employer about chemical exposure, safety, and protection.

If you have already been exposed to dangerous chemicals and developed an illness as a result, you should be entitled to workers’ compensation.

To file a claim or get help with an existing claim, please contact The Law Office of George P. Escobedo & Associates, PLLC at (210) 807-3178 or schedule a free consultation online.