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Exposure, chemicals lead to high rates of worker skin disease

Chemicals. Most of us have a cabinet full of them below our sink at home, and we rarely think about their effects. But, for the more than 13 million workers who are exposed to dangerous substances and chemicals at their jobs throughout the U.S., potential exposure is a very real issue that needs to be discussed. Too many New Jersey workers face unsafe conditions and the potential risk of health problems such as cancer from exposure to pesticide and herbicide or other chemical exposure. Occupational skin diseases are some of the most common conditions that can result from chemical exposure.

Most workplace safety initiatives focus on preventing respiratory issues: lung diseases from mesothelioma exposure to asbestos, or exposure to silica dust. New evidence shows, however, that these initiatives may not be enough to assist those who suffer from occupational skin disease. In fact, safety professionals and industrial hygienists are not always sure how to measure whether there are too many skin-irritating chemicals in a specific workplace.

Still, skin diseases are the most common type of occupational disease in our nation. These conditions can include allergic contact dermatitis (skin inflammation), irritant contact dermatitis, skin infections, skin injuries and even skin cancers. These chemical conditions are generally attributable to direct contact with the substance through touching a contaminated surface or being splashed with the chemical. You might be at a higher risk of developing or contracting these conditions if you work in agriculture, health care, food service, cosmetology, construction, cleaning and other related industries.

Every New Jersey worker deserves to feel safe on the job, but the fact is that chemicals, machinery and a variety of other hazards can lead to injury or even death from workplace exposure. Victims who have developed cancer from exposure to pesticide on their skin, for example, deserve financial compensation for their illness. No one should have to suffer through a workplace illness or injury without the financial resources they need for treatment. A civil case may be able to provide those resources.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Skin Exposure and Effects," accessed Aug. 13, 2015

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