Pesticide Exposure: What Are the Health Risks That Lead to Workers’ Compensation Claims?
Thousands of workers are exposed on a regular basis to pesticides as part of their job and face serious risks to their health as a result. Unfortunately, they jeopardize their families as well when they carry home pesticide residue on their clothes and skin. If you have suffered an illness due to pesticide exposure, you may be struggling with expensive medical bills, a loss of wages, and the reality that you cannot return to your job due to your deteriorating health. However, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits to help you pay for the medical treatments you need and to replace your wages so that you can support your family and yourself.
How Are Workers Exposed to Pesticides?
Pesticides are used widely by workers in farming, landscaping, and gardening industries. They are also used by employees who take care of plants in homes, office buildings, and shopping malls. Insecticides, herbicides, and fungicides contain toxic chemicals that can damage the health of workers using them and can enter a worker’s body during the mixing, application, and clean-up operations that are associated with pesticide use. Pesticides can enter a worker’s body in one of these ways:
- Dermal. Absorption through the skin is the most common way that workers are exposed to pesticides. Often the pesticide enters their skin through a splash or mist of it or when workers touch clothing, equipment, or surfaces that contain pesticide residue.
- Inhalation. Workers can inhale pesticides through their lungs when working near powders, airborne droplets, or vapors. The risks are greatest when high-pressure, ultra-low volume, or fogging equipment is used.
- Ingestion. Ingestion of pesticides is not a common form of exposure for workers. However, if this occurs, the poisoning is the most severe. Unfortunately, some workers have unintentionally ingested pesticides improperly stored in unlabeled bottles or beverage containers. If they do not wash their hands before smoking or eating, this is another way that pesticides can be accidentally ingested.
What Are the Symptoms of Pesticide Exposure?
A person can suffer mild, moderate, or severe pesticide poisoning. Some of the symptoms of toxic exposure include:
- Mild poisoning. Some of the signs of mild poisoning include irritation of eyes, skin, nose, or throat, dizziness, headache, nausea, thirst, diarrhea, sweating, fatigue, insomnia, and nervousness.
- Moderate poisoning. In addition to the symptoms of mild poisoning, a worker can experience vomiting, coughing, constriction in the throat and chest, abdominal cramps, blurred vision, rapid pulse, muscle incoordination, and mental confusion if moderately poisoned.
- Severe poisoning. A worker suffering from severe pesticide poisoning may exhibit symptoms of mild and moderate poisoning. Additional symptoms include the inability to breathe, excessive mucous, chemical burns on the skin, rapid breathing, uncontrollable muscle twitching, loss of consciousness, or death.
Illnesses Caused by Exposure to Pesticides
Long-term exposure to pesticides can cause workers to suffer occupational illnesses that can cause long-term disabilities, limitations in their ability to work and to perform day-to-day activities, or death. Some of these diseases include:
- Malignant tumors
- Brain injuries
- Gastrointestinal disorders
- Blood disorders
- Cancer of the brain, bone, liver, pancreas, bladder, and prostrate
- Hodgkin’s and Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Alzheimer’s disease and dementia
- Endocrine disruption, which can interfere with hormones and metabolism
- Reproductive problems
- Asthma and allergies
- Parkinson’s disease
How Workers’ Compensation Benefits Can Help
If you have developed an illness from exposure to pesticides at your job, you may be entitled to benefits under New Jersey’s workers’ compensation laws to pay your medical bills and lost wages. In addition, you may be entitled to partial or total disability payments if you suffered a disability even if you are able to return to work. If a loved one died as a result of a disease caused by pesticides, you may be entitled to death benefits.
Unfortunately, it may difficult to obtain the workers’ compensation benefits that you deserve when you suffer an injury due to pesticide exposure. You need an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to help you prove that your injury was caused by exposure to pesticides at work. Call our office to schedule a free consultation to learn how we can help you fight for the benefits you could be entitled to.