Vinyl Chloride

Vinyl chloride and other chlorinated hydrocarbons have many industrial uses. The toxicity of vinyl chloride limits its application in consumer goods, though it was used as an aerosol spray propellant until the mid-1970s.

Toxicity leads to curtailment

The accumulation of vinyl chloride vapor in hair salons far exceeded the United States government’s NOAEL (no observed adverse effect level) chemical exposure guidelines, possibly causing a large increase in the occurrence of cancer in the most severely affected occupations. Vinyl chloride was formerly used as an inhaled anesthetic, but its toxicity forced this practice to be curtailed.

Exposure to vinyl chloride depresses the central nervous system, and inhaling its vapors causes symptoms similar to alcohol intoxication. These include headache, dizziness and poor coordination. In some cases, it progresses to hallucination, loss of consciousness and death by respiratory failure.

Linked to various forms of cancer

In laboratory animals, exposure to vinyl chloride during pregnancy has produced miscarriages and birth defects. Its effect on human reproduction is unknown. Long-term exposure to vinyl chloride can cause chronic skin irritations and has also been linked to Raynaud’s syndrome, a painful inflammation of the extremities. Vinyl chloride is carcinogenic and has been associated with several forms of cancers.

Exposure to vinyl chloride may cause:

  • Liver cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Lymphoma
  • Scleroderma (hardening of skin in the extremities)
  • Brain cancer
  • Acro-osteolysis or Raynaud’s syndrome

The carcinogenic nature of vinyl chloride is well established, and its prospective legal liability compares with that of asbestos—the proven cause of mesothelioma. If you or a loved one have been injured due to vinyl chloride exposure, contact a doctor and an attorney who is experienced in handling such cases, to determine your legal options.

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