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What chemicals are you exposed to in the petroleum industry?

Working just about anywhere could put you in contact with chemicals or other potentially hazardous materials, even if they are simply cleaning fluids as a janitor or toner for a printer if you work in an office. Even so, you may be among those here in Georgia and elsewhere who work with an abundance of particularly hazardous materials as you perform your job duties in the petroleum industry.

Here in the United States, you find those types of materials in metal fabrication, chemical manufacturing, petroleum processing and primary metal production. If you work in one of these industries, your risk of exposure to dangerous chemicals and materials is almost certain. How well you and your employer protect you from them could mean the difference between you suffering an illness or injury or you remaining healthy.

If you work in the petroleum industry

The primary chemicals you will come across in the petroleum industry include the following:

  • The oil and gas refining processes produce hydrogen sulfide. This heavier-than-air and rotten-egg-smelling chemical could kill you, and it contributes to the most deaths by gas inhalation in the country.
  • The petroleum refining industry uses benzene in its processing operations, among other things. Exposure causes a variety of physical ailments depending on whether you suffer from chronic exposure at low levels or high levels in the short-term, but any exposure could lead to your death.
  • The petroleum industry isn't the only place where 1,3-Butdiene is used, and it could always cause you to suffer physical harm as a result of exposure.
  • Fracking uses something called "produced water," which contains certain chemicals such as benzene, ethylbenzene, toluene and xylene to help with the extraction of natural gas. This water could also contain naturally occurring radioactive materials, including high levels of radium. 

You could suffer from any number of physical ailments, depending on which chemicals you come into contact with, ranging from skin irritations to cancer to death. If you notice anything out of the ordinary with your health, you may want to report it to your superiors and seek medical attention. You could be seeing the first signs of a chronic health issue. On the other hand, you could suffer an acute injury in which you suffer serious physical harm.

In either case, you will more than likely need help covering your medical expenses, making up for a portion of your lost wages and more. While you may obtain workers' compensation benefits, other parties could also bear some financial responsibility for what happened to you.

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