The oilfield industry has some of the most dangerous jobs in the United States. Work conditions can be harsh, weather is unpredictable, and hazardous machinery can lead to serious injuries. Most workers on an oilfield are aware of these dangers. However, there are other hazards that may not be as obvious.
Oil production is a complicated process that requires a lot of chemicals and reactions to create the final product. In fact, the whole process generates invisible, and sometimes odorless, substances which put the workers’ lives at risk.
The Houston oilfield accident lawyers at Lapeze & Johns are always in the ready to fight for oilfield workers who have suffered any form of injury at work – and we want you to be ready, too.
Below we list the 5 most toxic substances found on oilfields and why you should avoid them.
Be Aware: The Most Toxic Substances in the Oilfield Industry
A well-known carcinogen, benzene has been linked to leukemia, as well as breast and urinary cancers. Exposure to benzene has also been shown to decrease white cell production in the bone marrow which reduces the immune system’s function, as well as causes genetic abnormalities.
Benzene, as dangerous as it is, is one of the main petrochemical solvents used in oil production. Industry workers may be exposed to this toxic substance by the industrial combustion of oil, coal burning, and fracking fluids.
2. Sulfur Dioxide and Nitrogen Oxides
Mainly known as pollutants, sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxide (NOx) can cause severe health issues like lung cancer, heart attacks, and other cardiopulmonary diseases when exposed to them for too long.
Though known to be produced primarily at coal power plants, other major sources of these pollutants include oil refineries and oilfields where fossil fuel combustion takes place. Anyone working in an oilfield or living near an oil refinery runs a greater risk of being exposed to these gases.
3. Petroleum Coke
Also known as petcoke for short, this is a by-product of tar sands in oil processing and is a heavy dust. It contains a number of chemicals and heavy metals which are all harmful to the human body.
Not much research has been made on petcoke, but what is clear is that it is most dangerous when burned, as it releases 10 times more carbon dioxide (CO2) than regular coal.
4. Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons
Also known as PAHs, these are an entire class of toxic chemicals with a unique chemical structure and reactive properties. While they are known as environmental pollutants, they are able to cause harm in individuals as they are carcinogenic. They are especially dangerous to pregnant women and unborn children.
5. Hydrofluoric (HF) Acid / Hydrogen Fluoride
Hydrofluoric acid is one of the most potent acids known to humans. If its fumes are inhaled, the chemical can damage the lungs and respiratory system in general. When contacted, the chemical can penetrate skin, muscle, and even bone. HF can be fatal whether you inhale, swallow, or absorb it through the skin.
Unfortunately, for oilfield workers, HF is a very common ingredient in oil and gas extraction. Even worse, there are very few regulations in the fossil fuel industry – especially regarding HF – which places oilfield and gas workers in danger’s path.
If you or a loved one fall ill due to exposure to a toxic substance while working in the oilfield industry, contact Lapeze & Johns today.
At Lapeze & Johns, our clients are our Texas neighbors, not just case numbers. Unlike larger firms who treat their clients like an assembly line, the Gulf Coast oilfield accident attorneys at Lapeze & Johns personally know every client by name.
We are ready to fight by your side to get you and your family the compensation you deserve.