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Exposure to solvents could have lasting implications, study shows

Does your job require you to work with solvents or products that give off a chemical vapor? Are you exposed to these conditions on a daily basis? If you answered yes to these questions then this post will be an important one to read because it will point out the danger such conditions present to workers across the nation.

For years now safety regulators and government agencies such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration have known about the dangers of prolonged exposure to chemical vapors. But it hasn’t been until relatively recently that researchers have been able to see the long-term effects this exposure has. With the help of a new study, our California readers will be able to see how this exposure affects the brain and what impact it can have on a person’s life even after they retire.

After looking at data collected in France, researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health saw that workers who had been exposed to solvents in their jobs exhibited cognitive difficulties even 30 to 50 years after their last exposure. Compared to other workers, those with higher exposure rates performed far worse in memory tests and demonstrated slow cognitive processing skills and attention problems.

Even though the exposure levels were considered safe by U.S. standards, the long-term damage shown in this study proves that prolonged chemical exposure could be more harmful than we think.

It’s worth noting that chemical exposure can not only affect the brain but other parts of the body as well. Many cases of furniture workers out of North Carolina show that exposure to some solvents that are found in furniture glue can cause serious nerve injuries that can leave a person permanently disabled and unable to work.

Although this research may help current workers obtain workers’ compensation benefits, it may not help retired workers seek benefits. For them, seeking legal representation may be necessary, especially if they want to recoup damages in a personal injury claim.

Sources: TIME, “Paint and Glue Fumes Mess With Your Brain For Decades,” Alice Park, May 12, 2014

The New York Times, “As OSHA Emphasizes Safety, Long-Term Health Risks Fester,” Ian Urbina, March 30, 2014