Toxic Solvent Exposure Lawyer
Solvents are chemical substances used in a variety of applications across many industries. Industrial solvents are toxic and subject to myriad federal and state regulations meant to prevent their release into the air, land, and water. However, industries often flout these regulations in how they store, transport, use, and dispose of solvents. When companies negligently handle solvents, these chemicals can pollute the environment and result in toxic chemical exposure that damages health and property. Affected victims may suffer personal injuries, diminution of property value, and require medical monitoring.
Morgan & Morgan’s Toxic and Environmental Litigation Group is committed to holding solvent polluters accountable. The companies that use solvents on an industrial scale are large corporations that often benefit from regulatory capture. As the country’s largest plaintiffs’ law firm, we have the strength to fight for the people and the planet, against the powerful, and ensure that polluting corporations are not above the law.
What are Solvents?
Solvents dissolve, dilute, suspend, and extract other materials, without chemically altering the material or solvent. They’re also used as chemical intermediates, fuels, product components, and for cleaning and degreasing. Solvents usually come in liquid form and are sold under a variety of trade names.
There are different classes of solvents based on their chemical composition, such as hydrocarbons, alcohols, ethers, and chlorinated solvents. Common examples of solvents include:
- Methyl Ethyl Ketone (MEK) (aka Butanone)
- Methylene chloride
- n-Propyl Bromide (nPB)
Health Risks of Solvents
You probably have solvents, like isopropyl alcohol and paint thinner, in your home. You’ve probably noticed that these products have strong warning labels. That’s because most (but not all) solvents are toxic. Water is actually a type of solvent. But many other solvents are man made chemical compounds that can cause serious short-term and long-term health problems. The specific risks depend on the solvent, but in general, solvent health hazards include:
- Nervous system toxicity
- Reproductive damage
- Liver and kidney damage
- Respiratory impairment
- Irreversible brain dysfunction
- Facial paralysis
- Visual impairment
This research paper explains the specific health hazards of common solvents. It notes that the concentration of the solvent, as well as the time, duration, and frequency of the exposure to the solvent, affects the level of injury that can occur. The following effects could be symptoms of solvent exposure:
- Eye, nose, and throat irritation
- Blurred vision
- Behavioral changes
- Loss of consciousness
Industries That Use Solvents
Solvents are highly versatile and have many diverse uses, from coatings and paints to personal care and pharmaceutical products to pesticides, cleaners, microchips, and inks. Thousands of companies use solvents in production and manufacturing, including those in the following industries:
- Aircraft and aerospace
- Coatings and paint
- Computer chip, semiconductor, and circuit board manufacturing
- Dry cleaning
- Food processing
- Metal finishing and fabrication
- Oil and gas
- Pesticide and fungicides
- Printing and ink
- Pulp and paper
How Exposure to Solvents Occur
The workplace is a major source of solvent exposure. According to OSHA, millions of workers are exposed to solvents on a daily basis. Employers are required to provide information about hazardous chemicals being used in the workplace. Those who work with and around solvents typically wear safety gear to protect them from exposure.
Even when solvents are used in a controlled environment, where there are strict rules around storage, disposal, and exposure limits, they can still cause acute and chronic toxicity. But when solvents escape industrial facilities and spread to the surrounding community, they can contaminate the environment, sicken unsuspecting residents, and damage property values.
Solvents fall under the category of toxic pollutants and therefore, every industry that uses them must follow numerous regulations that govern industrial storage and disposal of solvents, safe transport of solvents, and the release of solvents into the air, land, and water. Federal laws such as the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, in addition to state laws, are designed to protect public health from solvents and other toxins.
Solvents can enter the body through inhaled vapors, direct eye contact, skin contact, and ingestion. Leaks, spills, improper disposal, and illegal dumping of solvents can result in them polluting groundwater and water systems. Solvents can also evaporate and emit air pollutants known as volatile organic chemicals (VOCs).
To Take on a Big Polluter, You Need a Big Law Firm
The Solvents Industry Group, which represents the interests of leading solvent producers, distributors, and users, includes corporate giants ExxonMobil, Shell, Dow Chemical, and Eastman Chemical Company. Small local law firms can be easily overpowered by corporate legal teams. Taking on a big polluter requires a big law firm that can match them dollar for dollar, expert for expert, and attorney for attorney.
At Morgan & Morgan, America’s largest injury firm, our size is our strength. We have over 700 attorneys and more than $10 billion in recoveries. Our Environmental and Toxics Litigation Group is led by nationally-renowned environmental lawyer Kevin Hannon, who has been prosecuting these cases for nearly 40 years. Kevin’s experience in solvents litigation includes successfully bringing multi-plaintiff and class action cases for property damage from groundwater contamination by industrial solvents from aircraft part manufacturers.
Kevin and the rest of our environmental team are on a mission to protect the people and the planet from corporate polluters. To discuss a potential case involving solvent pollution or exposure, please contact us.