Have you ever had someone spray too much Lysol around you and your eyes sting, or you feel like the air is heavier to breathe? Maybe your co-worker’s perfume is giving you a headache again. Have you ever wondered why it bothers you? It may not be allergy-related, as some people believe.

Unless you have had a specific reason to research VOCs, such as exposure in the workplace, you have likely never heard of this acronym, but it’s becoming more important by the day. It stands for Volatile Organic Compounds – AKA, dangerous chemicals. Several of these chemicals are known to cause cancer, including benzene and heavy metals.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”), VOC’s are released as gases into the air and pose both long and short term health effects. Which type of effect you suffer depends upon the chemical.

VOCs are found in a large number of products that we use, or come in contact with every day. Typically, if a product label states that it should only be used in a well-ventilated area, you can bet that it contains volatile organic compounds. Think about how often you’re exposed to any of these products and whether you have adequate ventilation:

  • E-cigarettes
  • Air fresheners and oil diffusers
  • Aerosol sprays
  • Dry-cleaned clothing
  • Perfume and cosmetics
  • Cleansers and disinfectants
  • Fuels and automotive products
  • Building materials and furnishings
  • Paints, paint strippers and other solvents
  • Copiers, printers, correction fluids, and carbonless copy paper
  • Craft materials including glues, adhesives, and permanent markers

E-cigarettes have become particularly alarming with the recent number of people admitted to hospitals across the country with a deadly vaping-related lung disease.

Symptoms of VOC exposure and inhalation

Until E-cigarettes began making the news, you probably had not heard of the health hazards associated with any of the above products. Make no mistake – they all contain VOCs. If you have been exposed to any of these products, it’s very possible that you could experience the same symptoms as if you had been vaping, such as:

  • Burning of the eyes, nose and throat
  • Respiratory tract irritation / infection
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Coughing or wheezing
  • Headaches, loss of coordination and nausea
  • Damage to liver, kidneys and central nervous system
  • Some organics are known to cause cancer in humans
  • Allergic skin reaction
  • Epistaxis
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Visual disorders and memory impairment

These symptoms can be a sign of a condition called chemical pneumonia, which comes from lung inflammation caused by poison or toxins. This type of pneumonia can cause mild symptoms in one person while fatal ones in another. There simply is no way to predict how a person will react to chemical exposure until they’ve been exposed. It’s like playing Russian roulette; you might not survive the experience.

Electronic smoking devices seemed to be the holy grail for smokers either trying to quit, or who were excited at the prospect that they could now continue to smoke in a more socially acceptable way. The problem is that they’re proving to be just as addictive and dangerous as tobacco products. So much so, that many states and cities are regulating where these devices can be used because the risks have become clear.

If you have become injured or sick from use of an electronic smoking device, you may be entitled to compensation. The product liability attorneys at Martin & Helms offer free consultations to assess your case and explain your legal options. To speak with one of our compassionate Huntsville attorneys, provide your information through our contact page or call us at 256-539-1990 to schedule your free consultation in our Huntsville or Decatur office. We also proudly serve Athens, Madison, and all of North Alabama.

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