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Untitled---2023-09-18T152551.743.jpgDrinking water is essential for our health and well-being. We rely on it to stay hydrated, nourished, and to support various bodily functions. However, what if the water we consume contains harmful substances that can have long-lasting effects on our health? One such concern is the presence of "forever chemicals" in drinking water. This issue has gained a great deal of attention in recent years, and people who have been exposed to toxic chemicals may be able to seek justice by pursuing compensation from the companies that were responsible. With the help of a qualified and experienced attorney, injury victims can take steps to address the harm they have suffered.

The Dangers of Forever Chemicals

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a category of chemicals that have been widely used in industrial processes and consumer products since the 1940s. They are resistant to heat, oil, grease, and water, making them useful in a variety of applications such as non-stick cookware, waterproof fabrics, firefighting foams, and food packaging.

While PFAS have many practical uses, they pose significant risks to human health. These chemicals do not break down easily in the environment or within our bodies. Instead, they persist over time and accumulate in living organisms through ingestion or absorption. In fact, studies have shown that around half of all drinking water in the United States contains these chemicals, and PFAS are present in the blood of 95 percent of the country’s population.


Untitled-98.jpgLiving in a large, industrialized society means putting a great deal of subconscious trust in “the ways things work” each and every day. When you get behind the wheel of a car, you generally assume that those traveling around you will do so safely and that you will reach your destination unharmed. When you shop at your local grocery store, you generally trust that the items you purchase will be relatively safe to eat. And when you turn on the tap, take a shower, or let your kids run through a sprinkler, you generally rely on the idea that the water supply will not make you sick.

Unfortunately, not all businesses and government actors earn the trust that the public subconsciously places in them. And, as a result, it is important to be aware of the risk of certain realities if you or your loved ones start to become ill seemingly out of nowhere. This is a challenge that the victims of the Camp Lejeune tragedy understand all too well.

What Happened at Camp Lejeune?

Between the late summer of 1953 and the end of 1987, individuals who were stationed at Camp Lejeune, their loved ones, and others who worked or visited the Base for 30 days or more were exposed to truly unsafe levels of toxins in the Camp’s water supply. As a result of this exposure, individuals have experienced a variety of significant health events – including miscarriage – and have developed numerous, serious health conditions, including cancer, aplastic anemia, and Parkinson’s disease. It is now widely understood that the government was aware of this toxic exposure long before it acted to protect those affected.


Untitled-13.jpgIn recent years, it has become common knowledge that individuals who worked and/or lived at Camp Lejeune during a specific period of time were exposed to toxic groundwater. As a result of this exposure, many individuals developed severe medical conditions. Although surviving exposure victims now understand that certain medical challenges stem from such exposure, individuals who got sick before this reality was well known may not have made the connection between water on the Base and their illnesses.

This is just a single example of why it can be important for individuals with certain medical conditions to screen for toxic exposure. When someone is diagnosed with cancer, autoimmune challenges, or degenerative conditions, they may understandably assume that they are experiencing an issue that cannot easily be traced to any particular life-related factor. However, toxic exposure screening may reveal that the origin of their challenges can be traced to workplace or environmental toxic exposure that may, ultimately, be legally actionable.

Toxic Exposure Screening: The Basics 


Allegheny County Toxic Tort LawyerWhen children are small, they learn about the food chain. They come to understand that, for example, when cows eat grass, the materials in the grass fuel a cow’s milk production and/or tissue growth and regeneration. So, even though a child does not eat grass, they do eat the materials in the grass when they drink milk or enjoy a cheeseburger. If the grass has been contaminated, it may affect the cow and the child alike. Such is the nature of toxic exposure. Even if someone does not work directly with toxic substances, their presence in the air, groundwater, dirt, etc. can result in indirect – and potentially harmful – exposure for those who may come into contact with them “down the line.”

Direct or Indirect Toxic Exposure Can Dysregulate the Immune System

When toxic substances are not managed, stored, and disposed of properly, they can affect anyone who comes into contact with them directly or indirectly. Sometimes, even a single exposure can result in medical consequences for an individual. Sometimes, exposure or buildup within the body must occur beyond a specific threshold to do damage.

In either event, it is well-understood and well-documented that toxic exposure to a variety of hazardous substances – including those that are innocuous in certain forms and harmful in others – can lead to autoimmune disorders. These “invisible” medical conditions can impact every kind of human tissue and every aspect of an individual’s life. These disorders, essentially, cause the body’s immune system to attack its healthy tissue.


Pittsburgh Lead Exposure Injury LawyersOver the past decade, multiple communities throughout the United States have encountered concerns about lead in drinking water. Flint, Michigan is one of the most prominent examples of this issue, and the crisis faced by residents of that community has led many other cities to examine whether their residents may be affected by toxic substances in the water supply. Pittsburgh is one such city, and in 2016, tests showed that the levels of lead in drinking water were above the limits set by state and federal authorities. Residents of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County may need to determine how they may have been affected by exposure to toxic substances and what options they have for addressing the harm they have suffered.

Ongoing Efforts to Address Lead in the Pittsburgh Water Supply

The limit for lead in drinking water that has been set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is 15 parts per billion. In 2016, tests showed that the water supply in Pittsburgh was 22 parts per billion, and since then, city and county officials have made efforts to reduce these numbers, including replacing lead water lines with copper pipes. More than half of the city's lead pipes have been replaced, and they are all expected to be replaced by 2026. To address ongoing issues related to lead contamination, the Pittsburgh Water & Sewer Authority (PWSA) has added treatments to the water supply that will coat the interior of lead pipes and help prevent water contamination.

These efforts have made a difference, reducing the levels of lead in the drinking water in Allegheny County to 10 parts per billion in 2019 and five parts per billion in 2022. However, the EPA has noted that there is no safe level of lead in drinking water, and ideally, it should be completely eliminated from the water supply. A two-year analysis of Allegheny County drinking water that was performed by the non-profit group Women for a Healthy Environment in 2021 found that lead had been detected in 80 percent of the water systems in the county.


Allegheny County Roundup Injury Lawyers

Roundup is the most commonly-used herbicide in the world, and it is regularly sprayed on crops in order to kill weeds. While it was originally introduced in 1974, its use has exploded since the 1990s, and today, over 250 million pounds of the substance are used each year. However, in recent years, concerns have been raised about the harmful effects of the chemicals in Roundup. Monsanto, the manufacturer of Roundup, and Bayer, which bought Monsanto in 2018, have settled more than 100,000 lawsuits by people who claimed to have been harmed by the exposure to Roundup, but the companies have refused to admit that the chemicals are harmful, and the product continues to be used.

Many of the lawsuits seeking compensation for injuries caused by Roundup exposure have been pursued by agricultural workers who were exposed to high levels of the herbicide on a regular basis. However, recent studies have shown that Roundup may also be harmful to others who are exposed to the chemical, including children. Families who may have been affected by toxic chemical exposure can work with an attorney to determine their legal options.


plant emitting toxic chemicals

Pittsburgh is home to many industrial facilities that often emit toxic chemicals into the air, soil, and water. These facilities are required to report their emissions to the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). Unfortunately, with so many of these plants in Pittsburgh and the surrounding region, many people live close to these sites, and they may be exposed to toxic chemicals and other harmful substances. Recently, a plant operated by Shell has been accused of violating its permits and emitting much higher levels of toxic substances than is allowed.

Plant Emits High Levels of VOCs and Particulate Matter

The Shell Polymers Monaca plant officially opened in November 2022 despite the objections of environmental groups and local residents, although it had already been operating for several months at that point. It produces plastic pellets, and it was licensed to emit 522 tons of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and 159 tons of fine particulate matter each year. Two environmental groups, the Environmental Integrity Project and the Clean Air Council, have been monitoring the emissions from the plant, and they have announced their intent to sue Shell for violating its limits on VOC emissions.


Allegheny County Coal Plant Pollution Lawyers

Every year, millions of tons of coal ash are disposed of by power plants throughout the United States. This ash can contain high levels of toxic substances that can be hazardous to human health. For Pennsylvanians living near coal plants, this is a serious concern. Those who may have been exposed to toxic chemicals due to pollution by coal plants will need to understand how they may have been affected, and by working with an attorney, they can determine their options for pursuing compensation for the harm they have suffered.

What Is Coal Ash?

Coal ash is a byproduct of burning coal for electricity production. This waste is often dumped into ash ponds located near coal plants, and in the vast majority of plants throughout the United States, these ponds are unlined. This allows toxic substances in coal ash to enter groundwater, contaminating the water supply and being absorbed into the soil. This contamination can affect people for years or even decades.


Pittsburgh Personal Injury Lawyer

There are numerous situations where people may be placed at risk of exposure to toxic substances while working. The Pittsburgh area has many steel mills, industrial plants, and other workplaces where toxic chemicals and other dangerous substances are used. When the proper safety procedures are not followed, or when accidents occur, workers can be seriously injured. People may also experience occupational illnesses due to ongoing exposure to low levels of toxic substances. These injuries and illnesses can be very serious, and those who have been injured will need to understand their options for receiving compensation for the harm they have suffered.

Types of Occupational Diseases Caused by Toxic Substances

Dangerous chemicals and other substances can harm workers in a variety of ways, including:


Pittsburgh Asbestos Poisoning Lawyer

Cancer caused by asbestos exposure is a serious health issue. While most people are aware of the risks of asbestos exposure in substances such as older building materials, they may not realize the potential dangers when using common consumer products. In recent years, concerns have been raised about the presence of asbestos in talc-based baby powder products, including those manufactured by Johnson & Johnson. Fortunately, victims of asbestos-related cancer may be able to pursue compensation from a company that failed to ensure that its products were safe to use. If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or other forms of cancer due to toxic substance exposure, it is important to know your rights and understand your options.

What Is Asbestos? 

Asbestos is a fibrous mineral that was commonly used in building materials such as insulation and multiple other types of products between the 1940s and 1970s. It has been linked to mesothelioma, lung cancer, and other diseases, and most manufacturers have taken steps to ensure that their products are free of this substance. However, talc and asbestos are similar minerals that are often found together when they are mined, and because of this, baby powder composed of talc may have been contaminated with asbestos. In response to these concerns, Johnson & Johnson has stopped selling talc-based baby powder in the United States, and it will cease sales of this type of baby powder throughout the rest of the world in 2023. The discontinued products have been replaced with baby powder that is composed of corn starch.


Pittsburg Toxic Tort Lawyer

Even though the steel industry is a vital and necessary part of the American economy, steel mills can be a major source of environmental pollution. If you live near a steel mill, you may be at risk of exposure to harmful pollutants. These pollutants can have a variety of negative health effects. If you or a loved one has been affected by pollution from a steel mill, an experienced environmental exposure attorney can help you pursue compensation.

Types of Pollutants From Steel Mills

Steel mills release a variety of pollutants into the air, water, and soil. These pollutants can include:


Allegheny County Toxic Chemical Exposure Lawyers

Ethylene oxide is a colorless gas that is used in a variety of industrial processes. It is most commonly used to sterilize medical equipment and other items, although it may have other purposes as well. Unfortunately, exposure to ethylene oxide can result in serious health effects. This is a significant concern to workers in facilities that use toxic chemicals, but due to the release of ethylene oxide into the atmosphere, people in the surrounding communities may be affected as well. This has become a major health issue in many communities throughout the United States, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has specifically noted that people living near facilities in Zelienople and Erie, Pennsylvania may be at risk. 

The Dangers of Ethylene Oxide Exposure

Ethylene oxide is classified as a human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). This means that exposure to ethylene oxide can increase the risk of developing cancer, including breast cancer, lung cancer, brain cancer, stomach cancer, lymphoma, and leukemia.


Pittsburgh Toxic Chemical Exposure Lawyers

In the United States, people expect to be able to live safely in their homes and minimize risks to their health during their daily lives. Unfortunately, many people are affected by issues that are outside of their control, including toxic substances in the environment. This is a significant issue for people in Allegheny County and Western Pennsylvania. Due to the large number of steel mills and other industrial facilities in the area, multiple types of toxic chemicals have been released into the watershed, increasing the risks of cancer for area residents. Those who have contracted cancer or other conditions that may have been caused by exposure to toxic substances will need to determine their options for pursuing compensation from the companies that were responsible.

Carcinogenic Chemicals in the Pittsburgh Water Supply

The state of Pennsylvania has the third-highest rate of cancer in the United States. Around half of Pennsylvania's residents will be diagnosed with cancer during their lifetimes, and around 20 percent of Pennsylvanians will die of cancer. Allegheny County has even higher rates of cancer than the rest of the state, especially for forms of cancer such as lung cancer, breast cancer, bladder cancer, colon cancer, and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.


Pittsburgh personal injury lawyerThere are numerous steel mills, factories, and other industrial plants in the area surrounding Pittsburgh. These plants work with a variety of dangerous chemicals. Unfortunately, this means that toxic chemical exposure may affect people, including workers who handle these chemicals or people in the surrounding communities who absorb harmful substances that are in the air, soil, or water supply. Autoimmune diseases are some of the most serious conditions that can be caused by toxic chemicals, and those who have suffered harm due to harmful chemicals in the environment may be able to take legal action to recover compensation.

What Are Autoimmune Diseases?

Autoimmune diseases are a type of chronic illness in which the body’s immune system attacks healthy cells, tissues, and organs. There are multiple different types of autoimmune diseases, and some conditions that have been linked to the toxic chemicals used in industrial plants include:

  • Thyroid disorders - When the immune system attacks the thyroid gland, this can cause multiple different types of health issues. Graves' disease occurs when the thyroid gland is stimulated into releasing excess hormones into the bloodstream, and Hashimoto's thyroiditis impairs the function of the thyroid gland, resulting in low levels of thyroid hormone. These conditions may be caused by exposure to heavy metals, such as lead, mercury, or arsenic.


Pittsburgh Personal Injury LawyerThere are a wide variety of toxic substances that can cause people to suffer serious illnesses or other health issues. Americans expect to be protected against exposure to these substances, ensuring that they can live their lives safely. However, there are some cases where manufacturers claim that chemicals are safe to use when these substances are actually harmful. Herbicides and pesticides are a common example of these types of dangerous chemicals, and they are often sprayed on crops in large quantities and used in other ways that can affect workers or people in nearby communities. RoundUp, one of the most commonly-used herbicides, may potentially cause serious harm to those who have experienced high levels of exposure, and victims may be able to take legal action against the manufacturer to address these issues.

Potential Health Risks of RoundUp

The active chemical in RoundUp is known as glyphosate, and it inhibits plant growth. While the manufacturer of RoundUp has claimed that this chemical is safe and non-toxic to humans, studies have found that extended exposure to glyphosate may lead to a number of health issues, including:

  • Cancer - The International Agency for Research on Cancer has categorized glyphosate as a probable carcinogen for humans. RoundUp has been linked to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which affects the body’s immune system. 


pittsburgh-toxic-tort-lawyer.jpgPittsburgh consistently ranks as one of the most polluted areas in the United States. A study performed by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh found that Allegheny County is in the top 2 percent of counties in the U.S. where residents are at risk of cancer from air pollution. The Pittsburgh area is home to prominent companies in the steel industry, as well as multiple other types of industrial plants. With so many facilities working with toxic chemicals, emissions of these dangerous substances can significantly affect the health of the region’s residents. People who have been affected by these dangerous chemicals may be able to take legal action against companies that have violated environmental regulations through toxic torts.

Industrial Facilities Responsible for Toxic Chemical Emissions

PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center has identified the top sources of air pollution in Allegheny County:

  1. ATI Flat Rolled Products - This plant in Brackenridge has been responsible for more chromium emissions than all other facilities in Allegheny County combined. Chromium is a cancer-causing substance that can also cause damage to the respiratory and reproductive systems. The facility has also been responsible for emissions of lead, nickel, cobalt, manganese, sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides, and particulate matter.


Pittsburgh Wrongful Termination LawyerNobody should have to face discrimination in the workplace. Unfortunately, far too many employees are subject to harassment and other forms of discrimination based on their race, gender, sexual orientation, or other factors. Some of the most serious discrimination cases involve wrongful termination. When an employee is terminated from their job for illegal reasons, their loss of income can cause a great deal of financial difficulty, as well as significant emotional distress. Workers who have been wrongfully terminated will need to understand how they can take legal action against their former employer and address this issue.

Illegal Reasons for the Termination of an Employee

As is true throughout most of the U.S., Pennsylvania is an “at-will employment” state. If an employee does not have a contract or other provisions stating otherwise, either they or their employer may choose to end their employment at any time and for any valid reason. While a person may be fired because of poor job performance, or they may be laid off because an employer has encountered financial difficulties and is no longer able to pay their wages, there are a number of cases when a termination may be illegal. These include:

  • Discrimination - An employee cannot be terminated because of their race, gender, religion, or age. A person cannot be fired because they have a disability or because of pregnancy or marital status. 


Pittsburgh Toxic Tort AttorneyFirefighters and others who work around fires may be exposed to toxic chemicals due to the use of aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF). This type of firefighting foam may be used to control fires involving substances such as oil, gasoline, or jet fuel, and it can smother flames and cut off their oxygen supply. Many types of AFFF contain chemicals known as PFAS that have been linked with multiple types of serious health issues. Because this issue is an ongoing concern, numerous states have passed laws that limit the use of AFFF and address health concerns related to PFAS.

Recent Changes to State Laws Related to AFFF and PFAS

PFAS (per- and poly-fluoroalkyls) are known as “forever chemicals” that do not break down over time. They can accumulate in the environment, leading to health issues that affect people who are exposed due to chemicals in water or soil. The use of firefighting foam may result in injuries to firefighters, people who work at airports or military bases where oil or jet fuel fires need to be controlled, or people who live near areas where these chemicals may accumulate in the environment. 

To address ongoing concerns about PFAS, several states have passed laws in recent years that address the use of AFFF. These states include:


Pittsburgh Personal Injury LawyerWorking in an industrial setting can be dangerous. Due to the presence of large, fast-moving machinery, materials heated to extremely high temperatures, and a variety of other dangers, steel mill workers may be at risk of serious injuries in workplace accidents. However, even when the proper safety procedures are followed to prevent these types of accidents, workers may also be at risk of harm due to exposure to toxic substances. Asbestos is one substance that continues to affect workers in steel mills and similar settings, and those who have been exposed to this substance may contract a dangerous form of cancer known as mesothelioma.

Causes of Asbestos Exposure in Steel Mills

For much of the 20th century, asbestos was a widely-used substance. Because it provides good insulation against heat and fire, it was often used in industrial settings, as well as building materials and other products. Once the dangers of asbestos became well-known, it stopped being used in many products. However, facilities that were built before these changes were made may still contain asbestos, putting workers at risk of harm.

There are multiple sources of potential asbestos exposure in steel mills. Some facilities may contain construction materials that were manufactured using asbestos, including cement and floor or ceiling tiles. Asbestos may have been used as insulation for furnaces, boilers, or pipes. A number of machine parts may have contained asbestos, including brake pads on cranes or other pieces of equipment, as well as valves, pumps, and other machine parts. Any products containing asbestos may put workers at risk of exposure, and a person may inhale asbestos fibers in the air or absorb them through their skin. A person’s family members may also be exposed to asbestos fibers that accumulate on their clothing.


Wexford Personal Injury LawyerIndustrial workers face a number of risks on a daily basis. When working around large, heavy equipment, the possibility of injuries is ever-present, and workers follow multiple safety practices to prevent accidents. However, in addition to the possibility of injuries in workplace accidents, workers at steel mills and similar facilities may also suffer harm after being exposed to toxic chemicals. These exposures may occur because of chemical spills, but in many cases, ongoing exposure over multiple months or years of work can lead to significant health issues. Workers who have been affected by toxic chemicals will need to understand their legal options and determine whether they can receive compensation for their injuries.

Dangerous Chemicals That May Cause Harm to Workers in Steel Mills

Those who work in the metal production industry deal with hazardous chemicals and substances on a regular basis. Some chemicals that may cause workers to suffer injuries include:

  • Arsenic - Compounds containing this substance may be used in steel production, potentially exposing workers to health risks. Inorganic arsenic compounds are carcinogenic, and they may lead to lung cancer, bladder cancer, skin cancer, kidney cancer, liver cancer, or prostate cancer. Exposure to low levels of arsenic over time can lead to issues such as damage to the liver and kidneys, decreased red and white blood cells, and an increased risk of infections.

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