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There are many types of poison in the world and some of us encounter them during the course of our work. In that situation, however, we are forewarned about the danger and, if we take the necessary protective measures, are also forearmed against the hazards that coming into contact with a poison entails. However, there are certain poisons about which we receive no warning at all. These are the poisons that are present in our environment.

Poisons in your Environment

In this article, we look at the four main poisons that might be present in the environment and what you can do if you feel that you have been affected by one of them.

The first of the poisons that we consider is probably one of the most prevalent in the environment – asbestos.


Although the use of asbestos was prohibited many years ago, it is still in existence in many older buildings. It was used extensively in the construction industry for making tiles, paints and glues, as material for insulating buildings, in roof construction and for sound proofing. If asbestos fibres are inhaled after being disturbed they can be released into the lungs and can cause asbestosis and mesothelioma and other serious lung diseases. Anyone working in an industry that involved or involves coming into contact with asbestos is at risk of contracting asbestos related conditions. These include fireman, demolition contractors and insulation workers, as well as those who worked in the factories that made asbestos materials. It may be very many years after exposure before any symptoms of asbestos poisoning arise.

Carbon Monoxide

Exposure to carbon monoxide can cause numerous physical problems, including severe headaches, dizzy spells, sickness, fatigue and, after greater levels of exposure, sight loss, memory problems and fatality. If the exposure is over the long term it can result in more severe neurological problems. These issues arise through exposure to carbon monoxide because the body assimilates it more quickly than oxygen, resulting in the dangerous gas being carried to the various organs of the body. Carbon monoxide poisoning usually occurs because a chimney has become blocked or has not been swept, the inhalation of fuel fumes in a confined space or through defective gas heaters.


Lead represents another of the more common risks of poisoning in the environment. Lead poisoning is caused by the ingestion of a variety of substances that have been contaminated with lead, which include paint, water and oil. Lead fumes can also cause lead poisoning if they are inhaled. Some of the symptoms of lead poisoning include severe stomach cramps, sleeplessness, mood changes, tiredness, amnesia and kidney disease.

Contaminated Water

Water may become contaminated by industrial discharges into the water system, which can be extremely difficult to detect. The substances that contaminated water can contain include harmful bacteria and viruses as well as human, animal and industrial effluents. Some of these contaminants are so poisonous that even a modest exposure can result in significant harm, if not death.

What to do if you believe you have been poisoned

The first step to take is to seek immediate medical intervention because, as stated above, exposure to certain poisons can affect you very rapidly. If you are able to ascertain that you have been poisoned by a substance in the environment you may be able to claim compensation if you can prove that this was through the fault of a third party. This might be because, for example, prescribed safety measures were not taken, you were supplied with a defective gas heater or you were ordered to work with asbestos without being given the necessary instruction and/or equipment. In those circumstances, you should consider taking advice from a personal injury lawyer. You will need to take action within three years of the incident or three years of you first suffering the symptoms of the poisoning.