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Understanding the Dangers of Construction Chemical Exposure

Construction chemicals can cause lung issues, emphysema, brain damage, fertility issues, and cancer. Use protective gear and follow safety protocols.


Chemical exposure

The US construction industry is valued at around $1.83 trillion, contributing 4.3% to the country’s economy and employing about 7.8 million people. It’s hard to overlook the utility of millions of construction workers. However, working on construction sites comes with its risks.

Exposure to certain construction chemicals risks the health and safety of construction workers. This article will discuss some of the dangers of construction chemicals and how to avoid them.

Lung Irritation and Emphysema (Cadmium)

Cadmium is a staple for construction sites involving steel and iron works. The element is an anti-corrosive typically applied on iron and steel to prevent rust. Workers exposed to cadmium during smelting or construction works are at risk of lung irritation and emphysema.

Workers exhibit flu-like symptoms like fever, chills, and muscle failure with short-term cadmium exposure. Over the long term, these symptoms could lead to lung irritation and emphysema. It could also lead to kidney disease and lung cancer.

Central Nervous and Cardio-Vascular System Damage (Lead)

Lead is another toxic chemical, leading to adverse long-term health effects with continued exposure. Construction workers indirectly inhale the lead in paint used to accelerate drying and give the paint a pleasant sheen. They can also expose themselves to lead during soldering.

Long-term lead exposure can lead to central nervous system damage in the brain, specifically resulting in cognitive and memory issues. It also increases the risk of hypertension and kidney damage. It can also cause low sperm quality in males and compromised fertility in females.

Liver and Kidney Damage

Solvents like xylene and methanol can cause kidney and liver damage. This is especially true when working with these solvents in tightly confined spaces. Short-term exposure causes eye, skin, and lung irritation, while long-term exposure can lead to liver and kidney.

OSHA advises workers to wear gloves, coveralls, and gas masks when working with chemicals. Employers should also consider purchasing air-purifying respirators to protect workers from inhaling these toxic solvents.

Lung Cancer and Silicosis (Silica)

Construction workers accidentally expose themselves to silica while sand-blasting or cutting rock and concrete. This accidental exposure to silica can cause eye, skin, and throat irritation. Long-term exposure to the chemical can lead to the scarring and stiffening of the lungs (silicosis) and lung cancer.

Workers can protect themselves from silica exposure by wearing respirators, N95 face masks, gloves, face shields, and goggles. Employers should also educate employees about the dangers of silica exposure and how to avoid them.

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The chemicals in the construction site pose a considerable risk to your health and overall safety. Follow all safety protocols and wear your PPE to sidestep these risks. Don’t forget to stay vigilant and report early symptoms of chemical exposure promptly to receive medical attention before they get out of hand.

Do you suspect exposure to a toxic chemical while at work? Contact The Law Office of James M. Hoffman today to ensure your legal rights are protected.

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Updated: May 16, 2024