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Phosgene Gas Symptoms

On February 3, 2023, a Norfolk Southern freight train carrying hazardous materials derailed near East Palestine, Ohio. The derailment caused a days-long inferno and released toxic fumes into the air, killing thousands of fish and leaving residents with health concerns. In response to the disaster, Norfolk Southern CEO testified before the U.S. Senate to apologize for the incident and discuss the railroad's efforts to mitigate its effects.

The derailment has had a devastating impact on East Palestine residents, both physically and financially. Many have complained of respiratory issues due to the toxic fumes released by the fire, while others are dealing with property damage or lost wages due to evacuation orders or business closures.

If you or someone you know has been affected by this incident, it is important to understand your rights as an individual or business owner in order to seek compensation for any losses incurred. An experienced lawyer can help you navigate these complex legal issues and ensure that your rights are protected throughout the process.

That’s where Morgan & Morgan comes in. We’ve been handling all types of personal injury claims for more decades, and we will do whatever it takes to make sure you get the justice you deserve.

Contact us today to schedule a free case evaluation.

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Get answers to commonly asked questions about our legal services and learn how we may assist you with your case.

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  • What Is Phosgene?

    Phosgene is a man-made chemical compound whose primary use is in the production of pre-polymers for polyurethane foam products. It was first used as a war gas during World War I, but its industrial use began shortly after the war ended.

  • What Causes Phosgene Exposure?

    Phosgene is used in various industrial processes including production of plastics, resins, drugs, dyes, and pesticides—all of which pose a risk for workers who use them on a daily basis without proper protection.

    Other sources of potential phosgene exposure include, oil refining, chlorinated organic solvents used in dry cleaning operations, and emissions from rubber manufacturing plants.  

    It is also possible for people living near these facilities to experience elevated levels of phosgene if proper safety measures are not taken by the facility’s operators. Lastly, accidental releases from storage tanks containing phosgene can cause significant exposures if not handled properly.  

    East Palestine, Ohio Train Crash

    50 cars of a Norfolk Southern freight train derailed, with at least 10 of them carrying hazardous materials. Some of these cars contained vinyl chloride, which slowly released into the air before crews ignited it to get rid of the highly flammable, toxic chemicals in a controlled environment, creating a dark plume of smoke.  When vinyl chloride is burned, it leaves traces of phosgene gas.

  • What Are Acute Side Effects of Phosgene Gas Exposure?

    Acute inhalation of phosgene can lead to severe respiratory effects, such as pulmonary edema and emphysema, and death. Symptoms of acute exposure include choking, chest constriction, coughing, painful breathing, and bloody sputum.

    In addition to its respiratory effects, acute phosgene poisoning may also affect the brain, heart, and blood in humans due to a lack of oxygen. Severe eye irritation and skin burns may occur following eye or skin exposure in humans.

    Cardiovascular collapse may occur with fluid accumulation in lungs and destruction of red blood cells. This could lead to an inability to breathe and may require medical intervention. Phosgene vapor can cause skin irritation as well. Children are especially vulnerable due to their larger surface area to body weight ratio. Symptoms include burning sensations, itching, and redness on exposed areas.

    In some cases, these symptoms can be delayed for hours after exposure. It is important for anyone who suspects they have been exposed to seek medical attention immediately.

  • What Are Chronic Effects of Exposure?

    Chronic inhalation of low levels of phosgene can lead to pulmonary changes such as emphysema and fibrosis. This means that your lungs will become increasingly damaged over time if you are regularly exposed to low levels of phosgene. Additionally, increased incidence of chronic pneumonitis, acute pneumonia, and fibrinous pneumonia has been observed in animals exposed to phosgene. These health effects are not just limited to animals; humans are also at risk for developing these conditions if they are chronically exposed to phosgene.  

    All conditions related to phosgene gas may require immediate medical attention. Additionally, prolonged exposure to phosgene could impair lung function even after all symptoms have subsided; long-term monitoring is recommended for anyone who has been exposed for an extended period of time.

  • What to Do if You’ve Been Exposed to Phosgene Gas?

    Phosgene gas is a highly toxic chemical used in warfare and industrial settings, and can be released during unfortunate accidents like we saw with the train in East Palestine, Ohio. As you can see, exposure to phosgene gas can cause severe health problems. Here’s what you should do if you were exposed:

    Leave the Area Where the Gas Was Released

    If you have been exposed to phosgene gas, the first thing you should do is leave the area where it was released as soon as possible. Try to breathe fresh air whenever possible. If you are unable to get inside a building or shelter in place, seek higher ground. This will help reduce your exposure to the gas and protect yourself from further harm because phosgene gas is heavier than air and will sink down.

    Remove Contaminated Clothing and Wash Your Skin

    Next, take off any clothing that may have become contaminated with the gas and blot away any liquid residue with a towel or cloth. Then take a lukewarm shower using mild soap for 90 seconds or longer if necessary. Make sure to wash your face and eyes thoroughly with lukewarm water if they are burning or vision is impaired. When finished, put on clean, warm, clothes right away.

    Safely Dispose of Contaminated Items

    It’s also important that all contaminated items are placed in plastic bags or containers so they can be safely disposed of without putting other people at risk of exposure. Once bagged up, inform local authorities so that they can pick up the items for proper disposal. It’s also important that medical professionals are notified about your exposure so they can provide appropriate treatment for any health issues that arise from it.

    Protecting Yourself From Exposure

    The best way to prevent exposure to phosgene is by avoiding contact with it altogether. If you work in an industry where you may be exposed to phosgene, make sure that your employer provides adequate safety measures such as protective clothing and respirators. Also make sure that all equipment used for handling phosgene is properly maintained so that leakages do not occur.

    Additionally, you and all other employees should receive comprehensive training on the proper handling and disposal of hazardous materials like phosgene.

    Finally, if you believe that you have been exposed to dangerous levels of phosgene at work, seek medical attention immediately and consult with a personal injury lawyer about filing a claim against your employer for negligence or unsafe working conditions. 

  • How A Lawyer Can Help With a Phosgene Gas Exposure Lawsuit?

    If you or someone you know has been exposed to phosgene gas at work or in another environment where it is present, such as an auto plant or manufacturing facility, it’s important to speak with a personal injury lawyer about filing a lawsuit for damages incurred due to the exposure.

    A knowledgeable lawyer will be able to explain the legal process involved in pursuing a claim for compensation for medical bills, lost wages due to missed work days from illness caused by the exposure, and other expenses related to the incident. A lawyer will also be able to advise you on other legal options available such as filing for worker’s compensation benefits or joining a class action lawsuit if applicable.  

    When searching for a personal injury attorney who specializes in cases involving chemical exposures such as phosgene gas, it is important that you select an experienced lawyer with a proven track record of success in this area of law. Make sure that they understand all relevant laws and regulations surrounding chemical exposures and can provide effective legal advice tailored specifically towards your case needs.

    Additionally, the firm you choose should have experience handling cases similar to yours so they are familiar with common strategies used by defendants when dealing with toxic exposures like phosgene gas poisoning incidents. 

  • Contact Morgan & Morgan for Help

    This train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio has caused significant disruption for residents who live nearby—not only due to its immediate aftermath but potentially long-term health. If you or someone you know has been impacted by this incident, please contact an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible so that you can learn more about your rights and know what steps to take next for your situation.

    It’s imperative that those affected receive full compensation for any medical bills or other losses incurred during this unfortunate event, so don't wait any longer. Morgan & Morgan can help you seek justice and obtain what you are truly entitled to.

    Contact Morgan & Morgan to schedule a free, no-obligation case evaluation.

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