Advancements in chemical science and engineering can be a great boon for consumer products and manufacturers. Unfortunately, the same designs and compounds that solve numerous issues for businesses can cause a lot of problems for their customers and their employees.
New products and chemical compounds don’t always receive the adequate level of scrutiny they require to determine true long-term safety. The government and businesses tend to err on the side of speed when getting new concepts and products to the marketplace. This means that the people manufacturing certain products and the consumers who purchase them end up being guinea pigs for the companies involved.
Polyvinyl chloride, commonly known as PVC, is one of the most popular forms of synthetic plastic. Companies produce and use millions of tons of PVC every year. However, as ubiquitous as PVC has become in manufacturing facilities, it has only existed since 1872, which means that humans are still uncovering the long-term consequences of PVC exposure. The consequences may include unique illnesses and even cancer.
PVC exists in all kinds of products
Manufacturers can create either rigid or flexible PVC, which has allowed for its adaptation into countless industrial and consumer uses. You can find PVC in everything from bottles and plastic cards to pipes, doors and even artificial leather. That means that consumers and workers across a broad number of industries can have PVC exposure, whether they recognize it as a risk or not.
Any place where rigid plastic or flexible rubberized products could be useful is a place where PVC could wind up in a product or at least used in its production.
PVC dust, in particular, raises health concerns
Polyvinyl chloride is so popular that it has become essentially ubiquitous in modern businesses and households. You would be hard-pressed to find a business or an edifice that does not contain some amount of PVC. Not every form of PVC carries much risk. If you are wearing imitation leather pants for a New Year’s party, you probably don’t have to worry too much about health concerns related to PVC exposure.
However, if you work in a factory that produces products that include PVC, you could potentially be at higher risk for dangerous levels of PVC exposure. The inhalation of PVC dust could increase someone’s risk of cancer or liver damage.
Specifically, PVC has an association with a rare kind of liver cancer called hepatic angiosarcoma. Prolonged exposure to PVC could also result in a condition commonly called vinyl chloride disease. The symptoms of this condition include numbness in the hands, joint pain and skin changes, including changes in color, thicker skin and edema. People can also wind up sickened by PVC in their pipes.
If you have recently experienced medical symptoms that you believe relate to your exposure to PVC in an industrial setting, you may be able to seek compensation for any personal financial losses related to the diagnosis through a lawsuit against your former employer.