This Earth Day, our toxic substance attorneys want to highlight the importance of environmental contamination law. Whether we realize it or not, we encounter chemicals and naturally occurring toxins every single day.
There are currently more than 80,000 chemicals available for use in the U.S.
Our mesothelioma lawyers recently posted a blog about how toxic substances are approved for public consumption and defended in court when they cause health problems. In that post we explain that, of the 80,000 chemicals used today, the EPA has reviewed only 570. That leaves 79,430 chemicals unregulated in the U.S. The chemical industry and other special interests purposefully make it extremely difficult to for the government to assess chemicals. These assessments are necessary to propose regulations. The industry and its paid scientists spend incredible amounts of money stalling these reviews to prevent regulation and increase their profits.
Unfortunately, this tactic has found much success. EPA reviews of arsenic and formaldehyde are still ongoing, despite ample evidence of their association with cancer. There is currently no limit to the use of formaldehyde in cosmetics and personal care products, while all formaldehyde products are banned in Japan and Sweden.
Lead-based paint was banned in many European countries in 1909. The U.S. did not ban it until 1978. The most commonly used herbicide in the U.S., atrazine, was banned in Europe in 2003.
In 2015, the EPA was unable to complete a single review thanks to corporate lobbying and industry scientists. Americans regularly consume arsenic in water, rice, fruit juices and many other foods. Government scientists and expert researchers know that arsenic poses a great health risk, leading to lung and bladder cancer particularly in women. But they cannot regulate it due to corporate influence.
We are the only developed country with this type of system, which is so obviously ripe for corruption and fraud.
Those of you who live in Illinois may recognize vinyl chloride from the lawsuits filed against the city of Crestwood. Residents of that town, many of whom retained Pintas & Mullins Law Firm to represent them in their vinyl chloride lawsuits, were exposed to the chemical through their drinking water for decades.
Vinyl chloride is a known carcinogen, and is used most often to make certain types of plastic. Crestwood’s public water wells were contaminated with vinyl chloride in 1985, and city officials told resident and the state it would instead use water from Alsip. Secretly, the city chose to supplement Alsip’s water with its own contaminated water, and did so for more than 20 years.
Throughout those 20 years, and still today, Crestwood residents show higher than normal rates of gastrointestinal, kidney, and lung cancer. The city recently agreed to pay $15 million to settle residents’’ lawsuits.
Naturally Occurring Toxins
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that has been used for thousands of years in thousands of applications, from fabrics to brake pads. Medical research on the harmful effects of asbestos exposure in humans began in 1924. By 1927, researchers officially linked asbestos to lung disease, coining a new condition, asbestosis. The first asbestos lawsuit was filed that same year, when a foreman in a Massachusetts asbestos factory won compensation for his lung disease.
In the nearly 90 years since the first lawsuit filing, more than 6,000 companies have been sued for asbestos exposure in almost every industry. By now, asbestos is definitively linked to the following conditions: mesothelioma, lung cancer, asbestosis, esophageal cancer, and head and neck cancers.
The enormity of asbestos liability sent more than 100 companies into bankruptcy, creating a system of asbestos trusts. These asbestos bankruptcy trusts allow victims of asbestos exposure to obtain compensation from the companies responsible for their exposure, despite their bankruptcy. These trusts fund all current and future asbestos-related lawsuits. More than $30 billion is now available in trust funds.
Contrary to the health and safety of the public, asbestos continues to be mined and imported into the United States today, and used in hundreds of products. We are virtually the only Western, industrialized country to continue using asbestos. It is banned in the entire European Union.
People working in the construction, automotive, and shipbuilding industries are most at risk of exposure, though everyone has come into contact with asbestos at some point in their life.
Lead-Contaminated Bentonite Clay
As the devastating saga of the Flint water crisis continues to play out, other, more minor lead-contamination news receives less attention. The FDA recently warned about a skin and hair clay product called Bentonite Me Baby. The product is sold at Target and on Amazon and is confirmed lead contamination.
According to the FDA, Bentonite Me Baby has lead levels of 37.5 parts per million (the FDA limits lead levels to 0.1 in other products). This extremely high level of lead can cause damage to the kidneys, immune system, and central nervous system, among many other dangers.
Bentonite Me Baby claims to treat inflammation, eczema, and boost energy by “removing toxins from the body,” which is a ridiculous statement beyond the scope of this post.
This chemical compound is found naturally and through human activity, and is used to produce many consumer products, although it is a known carcinogen. Benzene is linked to kidney cancer, anemia, and leukemia. It is also among the top 20 chemicals used for production in the U.S.
Benzene is used to make other chemicals that go into plastics, resins, and nylon. It is also used to make lubricants, rubbers, dyes, detergents, pharmaceuticals, and pesticides. People working in industries that use benzene are most at risk of high levels of exposure. We have represented many clients diagnosed with cancer from benzene exposure.
Our team of toxic exposure lawyers have been fighting on behalf of the injured for 30 years. We have won millions of dollars for our clients, going up against insurance companies, Big Pharma, and other corporations responsible for their exposure. If you or someone you love was seriously injured or killed from toxic exposure, contact our firm immediately for a free consultation. We help clients nationwide, and will travel to you to help you with the legal process.