Hazardous chemicals have worked their way into our daily lives, most typically as cleaners and solvents kept around the home. Others are used in manufacturing to make the things we use every day, like certain plastics. Polyvinyl chloride is one of these plastics and goes by the user-friendly name PVC. PVC is used to make pipes for plumbing, wire coatings, packaging and other plastic products of all types.
Vinyl Chloride and PVC
Creating PVC requires vinyl chloride, a dangerous chemical compound. At room temperature, it is a colorless, sweet smelling gas. It is also explosive and carcinogenic (cancer-causing). It can be dissolved into the air we breathe, becoming other potentially dangerous chemical compounds, or dissolved into the water we drink.
McCullom Lake, Illinois and Brain Tumors
Despite the fact that we probably come into contact with products made using vinyl chloride daily, dangerous exposures to the chemical are most likely to happen in or around factories where it is used in production. In late 2010, a lawsuit was filed against chemical company Rohm and Haas, alleging a vinyl chloride leak into the groundwater and air around their factory in McCullom Lake, Illinois. The lawsuit pointed out an abnormally high incidence of brain tumors in the area, including at least 10 deaths.
In April of 2011, however, the judge dismissed these allegations due to legal tactics used by the victim’s attorney, even though Rohm and Haas admits there is a vinyl chloride leak into the ground coming from their factory. They claim it hasn’t entered the area’s water supply or dissolved into the air, and that the legal arguments presented by the victim’s attorney were flawed.
While vinyl chloride is a proven carcinogen, in this particular case the range of effects due to the leak are yet to be established in court. However, proving the effects is difficult because tests must be conducted on a person’s breath or urine shortly after a potential exposure – otherwise their body will process the chemical. These tests are also not reliable for measuring the intensity of an exposure to vinyl chloride, or low-dose exposure over a long period of time.
If you live or work around vinyl chloride, you may be at risk for developing cancers related to exposure. Contact our experienced attorneys today for a free consultation. We’ll listen to the facts of your case to help you determine your best options.
One of the cases against Rohm and Haas was dismissed due to legal maneuvering. If you are suffering from exposure to vinyl chloride, having experienced representation that specializes in brain injuries is vital.