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What is Vinyl Chloride & Why Is It Dangerous?

Vinyl chloride is a highly dangerous chemical used to make numerous plastic materials. Although the industries that use this chemical have known about the harmful effects of vinyl chloride for decades, it has only recently been identified as a known carcinogen. In other words, this substance has been directly linked to the development of cancer.

Breathing in, touching, or ingesting any amount of vinyl chloride can be extremely dangerous, which is why anyone who works or lives around this chemical must take immediate action to protect themselves and preserve their health. To protect your interests, make sure you know what vinyl chloride is and how it could be dangerous to you.

Vinyl Chloride: The Basics

Unlike some other known carcinogens, vinyl chloride is a manmade substance. It is produced by breaking down other gasses and chemicals, which creates a colorless gas (at room temperature) with a sweet-smelling, mild odor. Vinyl chloride also burns easily and is not stable at high temperatures. It is most commonly used in the formation of other substances, especially polyvinyl chloride, which is used to create all types of plastics, from children’s toys to home materials.

Associated Health Issues

According to the Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry, an organization under the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, vinyl chloride is extremely toxic if inhaled, and it can cause major injuries if exposed to the skin directly. Their lab research found that exposure to vinyl chloride for even a few minutes, in gas form, typically causes dizziness and fatigue. Prolonged exposure will almost certainly cause the individual to pass out, and exposure to high levels of the gas can be fatal. If vinyl chloride comes in contact with the skin, it can cause redness, blisters, and numbness.

If someone is exposed to vinyl chloride gas, moving to an area with fresh air is usually an adequate remedy, but only if the instance is singular or rare. After prolonged periods of regular exposure, individuals can develop serious health problems, including severe damage to the lungs, liver, and kidneys. More specifically, individuals chance a higher risk of brain cancer, liver cancer, lung cancer, certain cancers of the blood. Research also indicates that individuals who breathed in vinyl chloride gas for several years often experienced a change in their liver structure, while others experienced immune reactions and nerve damage.

Some research indicates other lasting damage affecting reproduction in both men and women. Men exposed to vinyl chloride over a prolonged period of time reported lower sex drives and sometimes experienced damage to both the sperm and testes. In women, exposure sometimes resulted in irregular menstrual periods and high blood pressure during pregnancy, which can lead to major birth complications.

Who is at Risk of Vinyl Chloride Exposure?

Because this chemical is used in the creation of plastics, it is most often found in factories or workplaces where plastic materials are manufactured. Those most at risk of vinyl chloride exposure are workers and residents who live near factories that use vinyl chloride in their production lines.

If you or someone you love was diagnosed with brain, liver, or lung cancer, reproductive problems, or other serious health problem after exposure to vinyl chloride, you may have a personal injury case. Our firm can work with you to build a solid case in your favor and fight major manufacturing companies for the justice and compensation you deserve.

Contact Shrader & Associates L.L.P.  today to learn more about the type of harm vinyl chloride can cause and discover how you might have been exposed. Our attorneys are here to help you seek justice and compensation if you were wrongfully injured.


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