Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are used in countless consumer products, including firefighting foam, non-stick cookware, and carpets. These chemicals are also used in some pesticides. Organizations like the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) are stating that PFAS might present even greater health risks to the public than previously thought. PEER’s report states that PFAS were in a mosquito-control insecticide that was sprayed in Massachusetts, New York, and many other states.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has strict guidelines for these chemicals and has issued Lifetime Health Advisories for them. Their testing shows that PFAS are in the fluorinated containers that contain pesticides. These containers are treated with these chemicals to make them more stable and durable. The EPA plans to conduct risk assessments on PFAS with federal and state agencies and will be posting updates on their websites.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns that PFAS can lead to thyroid disease, asthma, decreased fertility, liver damage, and cancer. In fact, the CDC’s guidelines for exposure limits are 10 times lower than the EPA’s. Other associated illnesses include kidney and testicular diseases and suppressed immune function.
The reason why PFAS are so dangerous is because most of them do not break down, so they build up in people’s bloodstreams. In some areas, PFAS have been found in drinking water and food. Although research is still underway, it is also thought that PFAS can lead to higher cholesterol levels, lower infant birth weights, and even reduced vaccine responses in children.
Those who are worried about possible exposure can contact their physician for information. Although standard laboratory tests cannot detect exposure of PFAS, there is a test that can show if there are PFAS in a person’s blood. This is not a routine test that doctors automatically give patients, so it would have to be requested. If PFAS are detected, there is no way to predict how they will impact one’s health in future. Getting a yearly physical, including blood work, is one of the best ways to stay healthy. Comparing the numbers from year to year can show if any levels are higher than normal.
People who know that they have been exposed can speak with their health provider about this and can request to be monitored for any conditions or symptoms that could be related to exposure. Expectant mothers may experience high blood pressure or liver and kidney damage after drinking contaminated water with PFAS. Expectant mothers should be especially vigilant about prenatal care.
Individuals who have suffered harm as a result of exposure to dangerous substances may want to seek damages for their injuries and illnesses. Even though chemicals are approved by state and federal agencies and regulated, people can still get hurt.
Dangerous substances can leak into groundwater, be stored incorrectly, or be sprayed before they have been thoroughly tested. These types of cases that involve drugs and chemicals are filed by individuals or groups of people and fall under the category of environmental toxic tort litigation. A plaintiff will allege that exposure to a hazardous substance caused their injury or illness, usually from environmental, home, or occupational exposure.
Industrial workers can be exposed to toxins while on the job, and some of the more familiar cases relate to benzene and asbestos exposure. In other instances, people have been harmed from using toxic products in their homes, like cleaners and pesticides.
To prove a toxic tort case, the plaintiff needs to show these elements:
There could be several parties responsible for the toxic exposure, including the chemical manufacturer, the company that manufacturers the storage containers, and other companies along the supply chain. Defendants in these types of cases can be large corporations, and they mount robust defenses to protect their interests. They will look for and try to create holes in the plaintiff’s case, and they will also try to provide evidence showing that the plaintiff did not prove the three elements listed above.
To prove fault in a toxic tort, a plaintiff and their lawyer can focus on different angles. Products liability is when the product is unreasonably dangerous or defective or if the manufacturer did not alert consumers to the safety and health risks. Strict liability is when the defendant’s behavior was especially dangerous. Negligence is a common claim, and plaintiffs have to show that the defendant had an obligation for using ordinary care to the plaintiff, and the defendant’s actions or inactions did not meet that duty. As a result, the plaintiff was injured.
For help with constructing a case, a victim should contact a lawyer as soon as possible.
Injured plaintiffs who are considering filing toxic tort lawsuits should also know that there are statutes of limitations, even though many of the symptoms can take years to develop. If you are experiencing ill effects from exposure to hazardous chemicals, do not hesitate to contact a Wilmington toxic tort lawyer at Jacobs & Crumplar, P.A. Call us at 302-656-5445 or complete our online form for a free consultation today. Located in Wilmington and Millsboro, Delaware, we serve clients throughout Dover, New Castle County, and Sussex County.