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Toxic Exposure /

Chemical Exposure and Contamination

Chemical Exposure and Contamination

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Chemical exposure can cause catastrophic harm to your health as well as to the health of your local environment. If it occurs on your land or near your home, it may drastically diminish your property value, in addition to causing serious permanent health effects and damage.
Exposure to toxic chemicals can occur through a number of common, everyday sources, including groundwater contamination, soil contamination, vapor intrusion (breathing polluted air) or through catastrophic environmental events such as oil spills and radiation poisoning.

Our Experience in Chemical Exposure and Natural Resource Damage Litigation

Our attorneys have decades of experience working with Attorneys General and other government agents on public health and safety litigation. We represent people and communities whose health and property values have suffered from toxic chemical exposure and work to obtain accountability and compensation from the corporations, manufacturers and others that engage in these negligent environmental practices.

In addition to our work in the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill and litigation against major paint manufacturers for lead poisoning, our environmental and toxic exposure cases include representing those suffering from tobacco-, asbestos- and silica-related diseases, and litigating against major entities for harmful toxic exposure, including:

  • Representing more than 100 residents of Tiverton, Rhode Island, against a major utility company for alleged damages to residential property resulting from environmental contamination.
  • Representing the community of Tallevast, Florida, for property devaluation and emotional distress claims from TCE, PCE and other chemicals allegedly released into the groundwater on the property of a large aerospace defense contractor.
  • Representing the State of Oklahoma in a case against poultry integrators alleging that poultry waste has polluted natural resources in Eastern Oklahoma.

Our attorneys have also represented people and communities harmed by the groundwater and soil infiltration of toxic chemicals and minerals such as:

  • Chromium
  • Heavy metals
  • MTBE (methyl tertiary butyl ether)
  • PCE (perchloroethylene)
  • TCE (trichloroethylene)
  • Volatile organic chemicals

Health Dangers of Chemical Exposure

The exact health dangers of environmental contamination vary by toxic chemical but almost all can be severe in nature, causing a number of injuries including immediate harm, terminal illness and wrongful death.

Toxic substances in groundwater, soil and air most commonly affect the lungs, brain, stomach, kidneys and skin. The harmful health effects of toxic exposure include:

  • cancer of organs such as lungs, bladder, brain and kidneys
  • hyperactivity, attention disorders and learning disabilities
  • respiratory conditions including asthma, breathing difficulties and allergies
  • skin irritations and conditions
  • stomach and kidney problems and disorders

Types of Environmental Contamination

Groundwater Contamination

Groundwater, the source of drinking water for half of the U.S. population, is particularly vulnerable to chemical contamination due to the leaching in of spills, leaks and toxic waste washed away by rainwater. Contaminant sources may include:

  • hazardous waste sites
  • landfills
  • road salts, fertilizers, pesticides and other chemicals washed into water sources
  • septic systems with leaks due to negligent design, location or maintenance 
  • storage tanks, above or below the ground, with corrosion, cracks or leaks

Soil Contamination

Soil contamination occurs when chemicals that have been spilled, buried or deposited in the soil spread and infect the immediate and surrounding grounds. Exposure to soil contamination can occur through skin contact, inhalation of dust and dirt particles or ingestion of food grown in contaminated soil.

Vapor Intrusion

As contaminations through groundwater and soil spread, the toxins may begin to diffuse upward and into the indoor air circulation systems of homes and offices through points of entry such as basements and wells. Although indoor air quality has historically been overlooked in environmental investigations, vapor intrusion has become a growing concern for residents within or near possible contamination sites, particularly due to the fact that many toxins, such as carbon monoxide, are odorless and difficult to detect.

PFAS & AFFF Lawsuits

Perflourinated chemicals (PFAS) are highly toxic, slow to break down, and build up in people repeatedly exposed to them. Firefighting foams commonly use a type of PFAS: aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF), which may harm people exposed, as well as damage the environment into which it is discharged. Motley Rice attorneys are reviewing and investigating allegations of harm to communities impacted by PFAS chemicals.

Apollo Radiation Contamination Lawsuit

Karen Skroupa v Babcock & Wilcox Power Generation Group, Inc. et al

Motley Rice attorneys represent residents from the Apollo area of western Pennsylvania, alleging that a nearby former nuclear enriching facility exposed them to harmful levels of radiation. This exposure, which occurred over decades, has allegedly led plaintiffs to suffer from various forms of cancer, including breast, ovarian and thyroid cancers, as well as leukemia, the types of cancers that can be linked to radiation exposure.

The Apollo facility was originally founded by the Nuclear Materials and Equipment Corporation (NUMEC) in the late 1950s and was purchased by Atlantic Richfield Company in 1967, which conveyed its interest in the facility to Babcock & Wilcox Power Generation Group in 1971, though Atlantic Richfield is believed to retain some financial interest in the facility. The Apollo facility was believed to have stopped processing uranium in the mid-1980s.

Motley Rice attorneys, along with co-counsel, filed a federal lawsuit against Babcock & Wilcox and the Atlantic Richfield Company in January 2010, with additional plaintiffs filing related environmental contamination lawsuits in May 2010. These additional environmental suits claim that the nuclear facility released hazardous, toxic or radioactive substances into the air, water and soil, leading to severe health problems as well as damage to the local environment.

Radiation Contamination History
Documents generated from plant operations in the 1960s-1990s show that this facility regularly emitted radiation at levels significantly exceeding federal regulatory limits. At one point, a radiation emission was documented to have been greater than 200,000 times the federal limit, the approximate equivalent to receiving 20,000 x-rays in a single dose, according to occupational and public health specialist Dr. Jim Melius.

See more about Toxic Exposure

Motley Rice LLC, a South Carolina Limited Liability Company, is engaged in the New Jersey practice of law through Motley Rice New Jersey LLC. Esther Berezofsky attorney responsible for New Jersey practice.

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