Oil drilling in Texas requires the use of sophisticated tools, heavy machinery, geoscience, and various chemicals and other components. Many of these materials from toxic chemicals to naturally occurring substances can put oil rig workers at risk for serious injuries and illness from exposure. The Houston oil rig injury lawyers at The Queenan Law Firm explain some of the most hazardous chemicals and substances used or encountered in oil drilling in Texas. If you or a loved one was injured in the workplace by any of these materials or any other accidents while working in the oil industry, contact our attorneys for help seeking financial compensation for your injuries.
Toxic and Dangerous Substances and Chemicals in the Oil Industry
Oil drilling may seem like a mechanical experience to most workers who deal with drills, tools, and moving oil, mud, and rock as their primary job duties. On top of these physical and mechanical changes and duties, there are a lot of chemical changes and chemical reactions that happen on an oil rig. Some of these chemicals and reactions are more obvious than others, and some of them can cause serious health concerns. While one might expect oil refineries to be the most dangerous place for chemical exposure, but oil drilling workers can also face injury or illness from many of the following hazardous materials:
Crude oil is itself a hazardous material. Of course, oil is flammable and can lead to serious burn injuries in the event that a fire breaks out or a blowout occurs. However, oil can also be quite toxic if you ingest it or get it in your eyes. Touching oil with bare skin can also produce rashes and itchiness, but getting it in your eyes or mouth can be worse. Getting oil in your eyes can cause intense irritation and discomfort, and ingesting or swallowing it can lead to health problems down the road.
Even if you are drilling in an oilfield and not looking for natural gas, it is still possible that there may be pockets of natural gas in the same area where your well is located. Drilling into these pockets can mean having chemicals leak out and potentially contaminate your job site. Naturally occurring gases can cause irritation in your eyes and lungs. More dangerous chemicals like benzene can even lead to serious conditions and health consequences like cancer and leukemia after constant exposure or exposure above recommended levels.
Hydrogen sulfide is one of the most serious gasses that can lead to problems for oil workers. This gas is heavier than air and can be difficult to clear without ventilation systems. You can usually smell hydrogen sulfide, as it smells strongly of sulfur (carrying a smell like rotten eggs). Even small amounts can cause serious health problems if you breathe it in.
Silica as a general term refers to pulverized crystalline rock. Silica is found in sand and other natural substances, and it is commonly used in many construction, drilling, and gas and mineral projects. Under a microscope, silica is essentially like sharp bits of glass, which can be extremely dangerous if you breathe it in. Silica can cause damage to your lungs over time, resulting in a breathing disorder known as silicosis. This is more common in hydraulic fracturing (fracking) than with oil well drilling, but silica exposure can occur in oil drilling as well.
“Heavy metal” refers to metals with high atomic weights. Chemicals like lead and mercury are two of the most common heavy metals, and the risks of lead poisoning and mercury poisoning are commonly known. Other metals, like thallium, hafnium, bismuth, and arsenic are also extremely dangerous, and exposure or consumption of small quantities over a period of time or large quantities all at once can produce serious harm to the body. Some chemicals are considered heavy metals, like zinc and iron, but these do not have the same health risks. Heavy metal poisoning can lead to sluggishness, neurological issues, respiratory issues, memory and mental effects, and damage to your internal organs, with different chemicals causing slightly different symptoms.
When digging deep in the ground, it is possible to come across radioactive material. Much of the radiation you could be exposed to is perfectly natural, but it can be dangerous to humans. Radiation can come from gases like radon as well as heavy metals and other radioactive metals, such as some isotopes of lead and potassium, more well-known radioactive substances like uranium, and other chemicals like radium and thorium. Prolonged exposure can cause sickness and other physiological effects.
Texas Oil Worker Injury Attorneys Offering Free Consultations
If you or a loved one was exposed to dangerous or toxic materials at work on an oil rig, contact a Dallas personal injury lawyer at The Queenan Law Firm today. Our lawyers work to represent injured workers and their families in their claims for financial compensation for serious workplace injuries and chemical exposure in the workplace. To schedule a free consultation on your case, call our lawyers today at (817) 476-1797.