Breathing problems. Itchy skin, rashes and burns. Irritated eyes. For some workers, including maintenance workers, janitors and housekeepers, these symptoms may have a common factor: cleaning products.
Toluene – often used in paint, metal cleaners and adhesives – is a clear, colorless liquid that vaporizes when exposed to air at room temperature. According to OSHA, it also has a sharp and sweet smell, which is a sign of exposure.
You can’t smell it, taste it or see it, but it can be deadly. Carbon monoxide – sometimes referred to as the “silent killer” – prevents oxygen from going into the body and can result in death in a short period of time, the Michigan Department of Community Health states. But how does carbon monoxide form, and when are workers at risk?
Pneumoconiosis is an encompassing term given to “any lung disease caused by dusts that are breathed in and then deposited deep in the lungs causing damage,” the American Lung Association states. Pneumoconiosis generally is considered an occupational lung disease because exposure to the dusts that can cause the condition often takes place at work.
From homes and workplaces to sidewalks and playgrounds, cement is everywhere. According to the Portland Cement Association, cement is one of the safest building materials available – when precautions are observed.
Abrasive blasting, which uses compressed air or water to clean surfaces, apply a texture, or prepare a surface for paint or other coatings, can be harmful to workers if proper precautions are not taken.
Asbestos is a mineral fiber that occurs in rock and soil and can be found in construction materials uncovered during renovation work, according to the Center for Construction Research and Training (also known as CPWR). Exposure to the fiber can increase a worker’s risk of developing lung disease, including lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis, although it may take years for symptoms to develop.