Vinyl chloride, a manmade substance that does not occur naturally in the environment, has been linked to liver cancer. The substance has been used for decades to make a variety common consumer products that we use every day, including pipes, plastic bottles, wire coatings, and plastic packaging materials. There are other uses of vinyl chloride, including furniture and automobile upholstery, wall coverings, housewares, and automobile parts.
At room temperature, vinyl chloride is a colorless, sweet smelling gas that can be dissolved into the air we breathe or the water we drink. Despite the fact that we probably come into contact with products made using vinyl chloride daily, dangerous exposures to the gas are most likely to happen in or around factories where it is used or near landfills where products containing vinyl chloride are disposed.
The most likely way to be exposed to vinyl chloride is by breathing it. However, people can also be exposed by eating or drinking contaminated food or water. Similarly, work exposure occurs primarily from breathing air that contains vinyl chloride, but workers are also exposed when vinyl chloride contacts their skin or eyes.
As early as 1960, studies have linked vinyl chloride to cancer. In recent years the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry have officially classified vinyl chloride as a substance known to cause cancer in humans. Studies of workers who breathed vinyl chloride over an extended period of time revealed an increased risk of liver cancer (angiosarcoma), as well as brain and lung cancer. Studies have also shown that people exposed to vinyl chloride may not develop cancer for as many as 20 years after their exposure.
Lawyers at Beasley Allen are currently investigating potential claims on behalf of individuals suffering from vinyl chloride induced angiosarcoma of the liver. They were either exposed to vinyl chloride in the workplace or by living near a factory where it was used in the manufacturing process. If you would like more information or have questions; you can contact Chris Boutwell (Chris.Boutwell@beasleyallen.com) or Grant Cofer (Grant.Cofer@beasleyallen.com), lawyers in our Toxic Torts Section, at 800-898-2034.
Source: The Daily Beast
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