Toxic Exposure: The Dangers of Carpet Installation and Carpet Cleaning in New York

Carpet installers and carpet cleaning workers can suffer long-term health problems due exposure to toxic chemicals. New carpeting has chemicals called "volatile organic compounds" (VOCs), released into the air we breathe – the odor we associate with new carpeting in a home or office. The fumes emitted by new carpet and carpet adhesive include formaldehyde, benzene, toluene, styrene, and 4-phenyl cyclohexane. Some of the most toxic chemicals are used to manufacture the latex in new carpets. These chemicals, when inhaled, can lead to severe health conditions.

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Formaldehyde: A Toxic Chemical Affecting the Carpet Installation Trade

Formaldehyde is a dangerous chemical that causes a range of dangerous health effects for carpet layers, who can develop respiratory problems. Formaldehyde releases VOCs when exposed to the air and can lead to eye, ear, nose, and throat irritation, damaged upper respiratory system, or chronic pulmonary conditions. The first symptoms are often asthma-like breathing problems. As time passes, the condition can worsen, leaving a worker unable to perform the duties of the job.

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Cumulative Trauma Disorder from Carpet Installations

CTD, or "Cumulative Trauma Disorder" is the term for injuries and physical conditions that occur over time. Carpet installers are exposed to toxic chemicals, day after day, slowly damaging various body systems. The body has a natural repair mechanism, but workers who return every day to the same toxic environment do not allow the body the time to repair and heal. It becomes overloaded with toxic chemicals, and with time, symptoms develop which can include:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Respiratory problems
  • Asthma-like symptoms
  • Leukemia
  • Lymphoma
  • Cognitive impairments
  • Hearing loss
  • Nervous system damage
  • Eye problems

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Physical CTD and Carpet Installers

Carpet installers perform repetitive motions that, with time, can result in serious physical damage. Published research reveals that carpet layers, while comprising only .06% of the workforce, submit 6.2% of the compensation claims for traumatic knee inflammation. Constant kneeling, and the knee kicker to stretch the carpet can damage the knee structure, leading to ongoing pain, bursitis, excess fluid, skin infections, and other conditions affecting quality of life.

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Denied Claims

As the injuries occur over time, a valid injury claim filed for workers’ compensation may be denied. Whether you are filing a claim for the first time, or have had your workers comp claim denied, you need help from an attorney that is familiar with these types of injuries, what documentation is required, and can assist you to seek the benefits you deserve.

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Carpet Cleaners and Work-Related Injuries and Conditions

Carpet cleaners face a set of risks at work and can suffer serious health problems over time. The risks include:

  • Hearing loss related to high-decibel cleaning equipment
  • Knee damage from a slip and fall, tripping over obstacles, kneeling, pushing, pulling
  • Muscle strain associated with continuous lifting, arm motions, and repetitive cleaning motions
  • Fractured bones or traumatic joint or muscle damage from slips and falls
  • Shoulder muscle strains from lifting and handling equipment and products, and repetitive cleaning motions
  • Back strains from lifting, bending, carrying equipment

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Cumulative Trauma Disorders in the Carpet Cleaning Industry

Carpet cleaning professionals are often the victims of CTD related to repetitive motions, exposure to toxic cleaning products, and falls. Cleaning service personnel provide critical services to the business and residential communities. Unfortunately, many carpet cleaning products contain hazardous chemicals, including but not limited to:

  • Formaldehyde: Formaldehyde is added to carpet cleaning products as an antibacterial agent. This chemical is considered one of the most dangerous for indoor air contamination and is a carcinogen. Constant exposure to this chemical can lead to allergic reaction, breathing problems, skin allergies, and work-related asthma.
  • Perchloroethylene: This chemical is used for “dry” carpet cleaning and is listed by the EPA as a probable carcinogen. Ongoing exposure to this chemical increases the risk of contracting several serious diseases, including leukemia, breast cancer, and skin cancer.
  • Phthalates: This ingredient is an additive to carpet cleaning formulas, to add a “pleasant” scent, but can lead to allergic reactions and is a likely carcinogen.
  • Optical brighteners: Fluorescent brightening agents, or “FBAs” are added to carpet cleaning products to give the cleaned carpet a lustrous, bright, appearance, but can cause skin rashes.

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Compensation: Why You Need a New York Lawyer

If you work in the carpet installation or cleaning industries and are experiencing the symptoms of exposure to toxic chemicals, you need an attorney to help you navigate the workers’ compensation system in New York. The percentage of denied claims continues to rise in New York, and a worker may be unable to work and earn a living due to health problems related to chemical exposure over time. Our workers’ compensation attorneys at Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro, Moses & Halperin, LLP, have a rare breadth of experience in workers’ compensation cases, and have recovered millions of dollars for the people they serve.

For a free case consultation, call (212) 986-7353 today.

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