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Study Links Workplace Exposure to Benzene & Other Chemicals to Mental Health Issues

May 13, 2014, a study was released, showing the worrisome scores from memory and thinking tests that were taken by retired power company employees in France. While some of these workers had left the power company decades before, nearly every single one of them had been exposed to benzene or other solvents while on the job. A staggering percentage of these workers turned out weak mental ability scores.

The study looked at 2,143 former workers, most of them around 66 years old. There were eight different tests of mental ability, such as the ability to change tasks. Those retirees who had the most exposure were found to have risk that increased by 18 to 54 percent of scoring worse than people who had not suffered exposure.

In a number of tests, those who were most recently exposed scored worse than other retirees. But workers who had not been exposed to a workplace chemical for as much as three or five decades still ended up with similarly weak test results.

What This Study Means for You

While this study was conducted in France, these dangerous chemicals are present in 12 to 13 percent of US workplaces. The rates for dementia and Alzheimer’s aren’t that cheery either. This makes it all the more important for workplaces to have rigorous safety measures, such as protective gear. If safer products cannot be used, it is vital to have protection such as a respirator whenever you handle these substances. If an employer fails to mandate such safety guidelines, a harmed worker may be able to sue their employer. At the very least, a harmed worker could be entitled to workers’ compensation.

Now before moving further, it is important to clarify that this study does not prove that this chemical exposure causes a breakdown in mental abilities. It does seem to support some of the dangers that we have already expected of these chemicals, however. Solvents such as benzene are already believed to cause damage in other areas of health and wellbeing. It is possible that this study shows declining mental health is yet another horrible side effect of unsafe work sites.

Whether manufacturers are producing plastics, medicine, glue, or paint, or any number of other products, workers are being exposed to solvents such as benzene, chemicals that have already been linked to cancer. It is possible in cases of chemical exposure for injured individuals or surviving family members to file a legal claim.

A Raleigh dangerous drug lawyer at the Whitley Law Firm is ready to discuss your case with you and inform you of your legal rights.