Phone: +1 (949) 583-1857||Fax: +1 (949) 340-6643


Toxic gas exposure causes long-term health effects

Posted on by SST

Toxic gases and dangerous chemicals can have long-term health effects including nerve damage and reproductive issues. Employees face the risk of permanent injuries and even death as a result of working in areas where these hazardous conditions are present.  

The New York Times recently reported on a woman in North Carolina, Sheri Farley, who used to work with a chemical known as n-propyl bromide or nPB. Auto body shops, dry cleaners and manufacturing plants often use the chemical and leave employees to breathe in elevated levels of the toxic gas produced by nPB. The fumes from nPB are a yellow fog that eats away at nerve endings, which is what happened to Farley. Now, Farley suffers from what she and her coworkers call "dead foot."  

According to the Times, medical professionals have warned employers for more than 10 years about the neurological damage and infertility that can result from exposure of even low levels of nPB for an extended period of time.

Although Royale Comfort Seating, the company where Farley was employed, was issued safety citations by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), they continue to use the dangerous chemical because alternatives are reportedly not as effective. 

In 2005, OSHA discovered high levels of fumes at the factory after seven workers became seriously ill. Royale laid off 40 people and was forced to close the plant to improve ventilation. Since then, Royale has paid almost half a million dollars in court settlements, required upgrades and OSHA fines. However,  OSHA found that even after the citations were issued, high levels continued to be recorded at the plant due to a lack of fan and filter cleaning needed for ventilation.  Royale was continuing to expose employees to dangerous levels of nPB. 

Safety standards are set to protect employees
OSHA sets standards to ensure the safety of employees who work in risky industries. Toxic gases pose a serious threat to employees working in factories as well as the oil and gas industry. When hazardous conditions are present, a toxic gas detector can alert workers to dangerous or elevated levels.

OSHA determines if safety violations have occurred on the part of the employer, fines and penalties are issued. After reports are filed with OSHA or accidents occur, the agency can open an investigation to determine if the employer is at fault or if they neglected to take proper safety precautions that could have prevented the accident. However, as proven with the Royale plant, some employers can slip through the cracks and continue violating safety standards. 

Industrial Safety News brought to you by Safety Systems Technology, Inc., leaders in fire and gas detection systems.

Related Post: