Workers in a number of different industries in California run the risk of being exposed to mercury. This metal is a liquid at room temperature, but it can become a vapor and cause serious health problems when inhaled. Even getting the liquid on one’s skin is dangerous.
The California Department of Public Health states that mercury can be released through damaged equipment. The metal can potentially be present in plumbing, heating and cooling equipment in addition to pressure gauges in water treatment facilities and medical instruments like blood pressure gauges. Fluorescent light bulbs can release mercury if broken.
Chronic exposure to a low dosage of mercury will lead to damage to the nervous system. Victims may experience tremors in their limbs, develop anxiety and even lose their memory. Mercury also affects the reproductive functions of both men and women. Besides making women infertile, the metal can make it more likely for them to have a miscarriage or stillbirth. Babies may also develop birth defects. At a high dosage, mercury exposure causes death.
Preventing mercury exposure begins with minimizing the use of mercury-containing equipment. When this cannot be avoided, workers should carefully handle the equipment and inspect it frequently for damage. Damaged equipment should be repaired or replaced as soon as possible.
Cases of mercury exposure could lead to an workplace accident or an occupational disease. Victims may seek workers’ compensation benefits by filing a claim with the help of attorney, and if they are successful, they may receive wage replacement, reimbursement for all medical-related expenses and benefits relating to any temporary or permanent disabilities that resulted.