Poisonous Fumes – Exposure to Dangerous Substanes in North Carolina Workplace

A Fox Carolina News Report states that a teacher and 14 students were taken to the hospital after inhaling an odor at school.


Our Anderson worker’s compensation lawyers know that there are many dangers in the workplace but breathable risks and exposure to harmful substances are among the most often overlooked.

According to the news article a teacher and 14 students became ill after inhaling an unknown odor while in the school building. The odor affected individuals concentrated in one particular classroom.

The entire hall was evacuated while the rest of the school remained open. Some students were taken out of the building on stretchers. Reportedly the fume had a foul odor but authorities did not know the source of the fumes.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides advice on the possible sources of harmful chemical odors and methods of preventing injury from various odors.

There are many potential sources of contaminates which may evaporate and cause dangerous fumes. Many chemicals found in the workplace can release harmful odors including:

• Adhesives • Caulks, coatings, and sealants • Wall coverings • Combustion products such as gasoline and other fuels • Personal care products such as shampoos and perfume • Carpeting • Cleaning products • Vinyl flooring • Furnishings and fabric materials • Air fresheners and other products with scent
This is not an exhaustive list of potentially harmful odors but if these chemicals among others are not controlled the indoor air quality may suffer significantly. Even a properly maintained and well-designed ventilation system will not eliminate some sources of dangerous odors.

Emissions from water damage, office equipment, indoor construction activities, indoor mechanical systems, plumbing pesticides, fire damage, and accidental spills are other sources of indoor air quality problems that may be more difficult to identify and control.

All employees should be on the lookout for dangerous odors and chemicals that could harm themselves or co-workers. When a worker suspects chemicals or odors in the workplace cause a health problem they should report all concerns to management or building maintenance personnel.

Employees should also see a doctor or other health professional if necessary and avoid using room deodorizers and air fresheners because they can cause throat, nose, and eye irritation.

Lastly, employees should dispose of all trash promptly and properly and store all food correctly.

Building management must act to protect the health and safety of their workers in whatever way is necessary. If an occupant reports health concerns the manager should always investigate.

In addition to responding to the individual concerns of building occupants, building management should establish procedures for logging all complaints, collecting information when a complaint is logged, ensuring complaints are kept confidential, determine an action plan, follow through with their plan, and follow up to ensure the resolution was effective.

Contact our Carolina worker’s compensation attorneys today by calling 800-887-1965.

More Blog Posts:

Fatal Transportation injuries are Primary Cause of Workplace Fatalities, North Carolina Worker’s Compensation Blog, October 1, 2013.

Why NC Workers Fail to Report Workplace Hazards, North Carolina Worker’s Compensation Blog, October 29, 2013.

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