From the airborne vapors of a chemical plant to the invisible particles in a stuffy office, toxic exposure in the workplace can have devastating effects on the health of employees.
With myriad types of toxins lurking in common materials and industrial settings, it’s critical that both workers and employers understand the risks and take preventative action.
In the workplace, different types of toxic exposure can occur depending on the nature of the substances present and the conditions in which you carry out your work activities. Here are some examples of common types of toxic exposure in the workplace:
1. Exposure to chemicals. Workers may be exposed to toxic chemicals found in products used in the workplace, such as solvents, paints, pesticides, cleaning products, or industrial chemicals. Exposure can occur through inhalation of vapors or particles, dermal contact, or accidental ingestion.
2. Exposure to dusts and particles. Some jobs involve the generation of fine dusts or airborne particles, such as in construction, mining, agriculture, or manufacturing. The inhalation of these materials can be harmful to health, especially if they contain toxic substances such as heavy metals or asbestos fibers.
3. Exposure to radiation. Workers in certain environments, such as medicine (radiology), the nuclear industry, or the welding industry, may be exposed to ionizing radiation. These radiations can have harmful effects on the body, such as burns, tissue damage and an increased risk of developing cancer.
4. Exposure to biological materials. In biological environments such as hospitals, biological research laboratories, or veterinary facilities, workers may be exposed to biological agents, such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, or toxins produced by living organisms. These agents can cause infection, disease, or allergic reactions.
5. Exposure to gases and vapors. Some workers may be exposed to toxic gases and vapors, such as carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, industrial chemical fumes, or flammable gases. Inhalation of these gases can cause adverse health effects, such as respiratory problems, dizziness, poisoning, or even explosions.