Workers’ Compensation for Radiation Exposure
Occupational Exposure to Radiation Can Cause Serious Health Effects
Radiation is energy in the form of heat, sound, or light that travels through a medium. Radiation can come from natural sources like the sun, soil, and water, as well as man-made sources such as X-rays, cell phones, and nuclear reactors. Radiation can be used to:
- Increase longevity of fluorescent bulbs
- Locate leaks in pipelines
- Measure the moisture content in soil
- Sterilize health products
- Treat various diseases, including cancer
Ionizing vs. Non-Ionizing Radiation
Generally, there are two types of radiation: ionizing and non-ionizing. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), ionizing radiation can damage genetic material and cause various health effects. Non-ionizing radiation, on the other hand, does not carry enough energy to ionize atoms or molecules and therefore is not as powerful as ionizing radiation. Nonetheless, either type of radiation can cause serious health effects if not properly controlled.
Workers in various industries can be affected by occupational exposure to radiation. Some of the most common types of high-risk occupations include:
- Agricultural workers
- Construction workers
- Manufacturing workers
- Nuclear industry workers
- Nuclear weapons test workers
- Pilots and other airline personnel
- Radioactive transportation workers
- Radiologists and other healthcare workers
Possible Health Effects of Occupational Radiation Exposure
The health effects of radiation exposure vary depending on several factors, including the level of radiation to which a worker was exposed and the length of time they were exposed to it. Generally, exposure to lower levels of radiation will not cause immediate health effects, but rather increase a worker’s risk of developing a related illness in the future.
Acute vs. Chronic Radiation Exposure
When workers are exposed to high levels of radiation over a short period of time, they may develop acute radiation syndrome, which can lead to death in a matter of days or weeks. The health effects of moderate to high dose radiation are well established, however the effects of chronic low doses, received repeatedly over a long period of time are not as well documented. Early symptoms of radiation exposure include vomiting, diarrhea, fever, and weight loss. Other, more permanent health effects include:
- Altered skin pigmentation – Radiation dermatitis occurs in approximately 95 percent of patients who receive radiation for cancer, according to a study published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology.
- Cancer – Ionizing radiation is known to cause several types of cancer, including bone, breast, lung, and thyroid cancer.
- Cataracts – This type of injury is caused by both acute and chronic radiation and can cause blindness.
- Cutaneous injuries – These types of subdermal injuries occur when the skin absorbs a large amount of radiation, but it can also damage the underlying connective tissues, muscles, and bones.
- Fatalities – Radiation emergencies and nuclear accidents such as the Chernobyl incident have caused many fatalities, however many workers have also died due to radiation injuries sustained over time.
- Fibrosis – Fibrosis is a side effect of radiation exposure that results in the scarring and hardening of the skin and also internal organs such as the lungs.
- Genetic effects – The genetic effects of radiation include mental retardation and congenital malformations.
- Leukemia – Exposure to ionizing radiation has been linked to leukemia, a blood cancer that causes the body to produce high numbers of abnormal white blood cells.
- Muscle atrophy – Those who have been exposed to radiation may lose significant amounts of muscle mass.
- Skin burns – Unlike other types of burns, radiation burns can damage the cell structure, causing mutations or cancer.
- Tissue necrosis or ulceration – Ulcers are defects in the surface lining, whereas necrosis is the death of tissue – these injuries can be caused by lack of blood supply, infections, or toxins such as radiation.
Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation Attorneys at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. Help Workers Obtain Compensation for Occupational Radiation Exposure Injuries
If you developed an illness due to occupational radiation exposure, contact a Philadelphia workers’ compensation attorney at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. Our attorneys provide skilled and experienced legal representation to injured workers in Philadelphia and throughout Pennsylvania. For a free consultation, please complete our online contact form or call us at 888-PITT-LAW today.
We proudly represent injured workers in Berks County, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, Montgomery County, Philadelphia County and throughout Pennsylvania, including those in the communities of Abington, Ambler, Ardmore, Bala Cynwyd, Bensalem, Clifton Heights, Crum Lynne, Darby, Downingtown, Doylestown, Drexel Hill, Essington, Folcroft, Glenolden, Haverford, Havertown, Holmes, Kutztown, Lansdowne, Media, Merion Station, Morton, Narberth, Norristown, Norwood, Philadelphia, Prospect Park, Quakertown, Reading, Roxborough, Sharon Hill, Upper Darby, West Chester and Wynnewood.