People run the risk of coming into contact with harmful substances every day. Contaminated water, lead-based plumbing, and mold in the home are all common types of toxins that people may encounter. For industrial workers, the risk is even greater. Any workplace setting can involve toxic chemicals, but industrial environments contain even more than others. Below, our Baton Rouge industrial accident lawyer explains the most common toxic chemicals industrial workers are exposed to.

What Industries Pose Higher Risk of Toxic Chemical Exposure?

Workers in certain industries are at a higher risk of being exposed to toxic chemicals. These include:

  • Industrial and manufacturing
  • Warehousing
  • Mining
  • Oil and gas
  • Transportation
  • Railroad
  • Construction
  • Lumber
  • Welding
  • Healthcare
  • Agriculture

Many of the substances and chemicals used in the above industries pose a serious risk of injury or death, particularly if workers are exposed to them over a long period of time. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) oversees safety regulations in these industries, and the agency provides guidelines to minimize the risk of exposure. Still, negligent employers do not always abide by those guidelines, or they willingly cut corners in order to protect their own profits.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), most workplace injuries caused by exposure to toxins are caused by one of five substances. These are explored further below.

Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide (CO) is known as the silent killer because it is a colorless and odorless gas, making it very difficult to detect. Every time a fossil fuel is burned, it produces carbon monoxide. When CO is produced indoors or in areas that are poorly ventilated, workers can experience sudden illness, or even death, within just a few minutes. Much of the machinery and equipment in industrial settings rely on fossil fuels, which is why these workers are at such an increased risk.

The most common signs of carbon monoxide exposure include dizziness, headaches, vomiting, nausea, confusion, chest pain, and overall weakness. When a person is exposed to high levels of CO, they may lose consciousness, and the exposure may even be fatal.


Like carbon monoxide, ammonia is also colorless, but it does have a very unique odor, which makes it much easier to detect. Ammonia is commonly used as a refrigerant in food manufacturing, as well as in fertilizer in agriculture. Workers in these industries are at particular risk of suffering from exposure. Symptoms of ammonia exposure include severe burns and irritated throat, mouth, lungs, and eyes. When the level of exposure is high, ammonia can even be fatal for industrial workers.

Hydrochloric Acid

Another colorless substance that poses a risk to industrial workers is hydrochloric acid. Hydrochloric acid is extremely corrosive, and it is derived from hydrogen chloride in water. Hydrochloric acid is used extensively in the manufacturing of rubber, dyes, fertilizers, and many other products. When a person is exposed to unsafe levels of hydrochloric acid, it can result in permanent damage to the skin, eyes, intestines, and respiratory organs. Due to the fact that hydrochloric acid is so highly corrosive, it can cause severe chemical burns if it comes into direct contact with the skin.


Many people are familiar with chlorine due to its common usage in swimming pools and other aquatic areas. This familiarity often causes people to believe that chlorine is not a dangerous toxin. Unfortunately, that is not true. Air is lighter than chlorine, so the toxin often accumulates at the bottom of areas that do not have proper ventilation. In addition to swimming pools and water parks, chlorine is also commonly used in print and paper manufacturing industries. 

When a person is exposed to low levels of chlorine, they may suffer from an irritated nose, throat, and eyes. Higher levels of exposure can result in difficulty breathing, coughing, vomiting, chest pains, and even death.

Sulfuric Acid

Also known as battery acid, sulfuric acid is colorless and clear, although it is very oily. Like hydrochloric acid, sulfuric acid is extremely corrosive, but it is still commonly used in many different industries. Sulfuric acid is an important part of the petroleum refining process, and it is a critical ingredient in fertilizer. Sulfuric acid can cause thermal and chemical burns when it comes into direct contact with the skin, and if it comes into contact with the eyes, it can result in blindness.

Our Industrial Accident Lawyers in Baton Rouge Can Help After Exposure

If you have suffered from toxic exposure at the workplace, you need a legal advocate in your corner that will ensure your rights and best interests are upheld. At Big River Trial Attorneys, our Baton Rouge industrial accident lawyers can advise on how to claim maximum compensation for your injuries so you can make a full recovery. Call us now at (225) 963-9638 or contact us online to request a free consultation and to get more information.

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