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Workplace Toxic Substances and Their Effects on Employee Health

Workers’ compensation is typically associated with physical on-the-job injuries, but occupational disease is a major risk for many employees. Some workers are consistently exposed to toxic chemicals that, over time, can lead to the development of cancer and other life-threatening conditions.


Asbestos is a mineral that was present in a number of workplaces for much of the 19th century. It was used as an insulation material, as well as in the production of plastic, cement, and adhesives. The natural form of asbestos is commonly present in rock formations, exposing miners to its dangers. Other industries that were commonly exposed to asbestos include construction, firefighting, shipbuilding, and the military.

Exposure to asbestos typically affects the lungs, and can cause the development of mesothelioma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), lung cancer, and other cancers such as ovarian and laryngeal.


Benzene is a chemical that is used to make various oils, dyes, pesticides, and detergents, among many other products. Workers who are employed in a facility that manufactures or uses benzene-containing substances have a high risk of developing an occupational disease — benzene exposure has been linked to cancer, specifically leukemia.


People who work in the construction industry, plumbing, mining, manufacturing, and auto repair are at a higher risk for lead poisoning. Frequent exposure to lead over time can lead to damage to the kidneys and nervous system.

Asbestos, benzene, and lead are just some of the most common contributors to occupational disease. However, there are many workers who are exposed to a variety of other toxic substances during their course of employment. Any instance of toxic exposure is dangerous for employees, and affected workers may be entitled to benefits.

If you worked in an industry that caused you to be exposed to hazardous chemicals and developed an injury or illness as a result, contact Humphrey & Associates. Schedule a free initial case evaluation by sending us a message, or by calling (844) 612-5800.