Nitrogen dioxide can be a yellow or brown colored liquid, or a reddish-brown gas with a strong, rather putrid odor. Some is present in the atmosphere naturally, produced by lightning, soil, plants and water. But most nitrogen dioxide present in city air is put there by the burning of oil and gas, not natural sources.
Nitrogen oxide is extremely toxic, and is most often found in the oil and gas industry, especially refining operations. It is also found in oil and coal-fired power plants and coal mining. It is also a major hazard in welding operations. While the main method for nitrogen dioxide contamination is breathing it in, exposure to the skin and the eyes can cause burning or irritation, and even lead to severe eye problems, and possibly blindness. If you’ve suffered an inhalation injury, you’ll need the help of a skilled personal injury attorney like Justin Hill.
The effect of exposure through breathing excessive nitrogen oxide on the short term can be irritation of the nose and throat, resulting labored breathing and coughing. Short term exposures can also interfere with the ability of the lungs to send oxygen to the brain, which can lead to severe headaches, fatigue and dizziness, which can be very dangerous for a worker, depending on where he or she is. In some cases, exposure can cause the lips and skin to turn blue. And extremely high levels can cause collapse and even death.
Longer-term exposures to nitrogen dioxide can lead to inflammation of the lungs, as well as a potential for permanent lung damage and a severely reduced immunity to lung infections, which can also result in a greater tendency to catch colds, flu and bronchitis. Some studies suggest that long-term exposure can even result in genetic mutations and possibly lead to lung cancer. Although the evidence is limited, some studies have suggested that exposure by pregnant women to nitrogen dioxide can lead to fetal abnormalities, and cause infertility in women.
Exposure to nitrogen dioxide should be severely limited, and OSHA has very strict limits on exposure levels that all workplaces should be aware of. The most effective method of limiting exposure to nitrogen oxide is through engineering controls, including isolation of the gas and proper exhaust ventilation. When those controls aren’t 100% effective, respirators can be used. Workers should be equipped with protective clothing, and the clothing should be removed and washed as soon as possible after contamination.
OSHA has a number of strong regulations in place designed to protect workers from the hazards of nitrogen dioxide, and if workers are properly trained and supplied with proper monitoring equipment, there is much less risk. In some cases, however, some employers may try to cut corners, which means they may not be doing things by the book.
If you believe you are becoming sick due to exposure to nitrogen dioxide, get medical help immediately. Then contact the San Antonio personal injury attorneys at Hill Law Firm. They are experienced in taking on some of the largest companies in the world and can protect your rights.