We represent families exposed to toxic substances.
Our birth injury litigation practice focuses on birth defects, developmental delays (including autism), and childhood cancers resulting from toxic chemical exposures in the environment and from dangerous medications. At Weinstein Caggiano, our attorneys work with highly qualified scientific and medical professionals to determine if a child’s injury is related to a parent’s exposure to harmful chemicals and pharmaceuticals.
Our goal is to shed light on the potential hazards caused by improper handling and labeling of toxic chemicals and drugs, recover damages for those who have been harmed, and affect change by improving industry standards and procedures.
Even drugs that people believe to be safe can cause severe injury or death. When manufacturers do not fully disclose potentially serious side effects, the public is at risk. Several medications traditionally thought to be safe for expecting mothers and their unborn babies have been found to cause birth defects. For example, recent studies link autism to a mother’s prenatal use of certain anti-depressant medications, including selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).
Birth defects and chemical exposure in the workplace
Toxic chemicals used in many industries, including high tech and electronics manufacturing, are teratogenic — they can cause birth defects and injuries to children whose parents are exposed to these dangerous chemicals. Such chemicals are often used in clean-room environments to make semiconductor parts. These chemicals include, but are not limited to, etching materials, solvents, cleaning fluids, and ethylene glycol ethers (EGE).
These, along with other toxic substances, can cause reproductive harm to both men and women, disrupting the parents’ abilities to reproduce or causing them to pass damaged and defective DNA onto their children. Birth defects linked to exposures in high tech industries include:
- Spina Bifida
- Heart defects
- Premature death
- Muscular Dystrophy
- Cognitive impairment
- Developmental Delays
- Shortened or missing limbs
- Missing or deformed organs
- Skeletal and limb abnormalities
Reproductive hazards of agricultural pesticides
Pesticides and herbicides contain many toxic chemicals that can cause birth defects in children whose parents were exposed through commercial agricultural work, groundwater contamination, or airborne drift. Parents who work in the fields for the farming industry — or simply live near an agricultural area — are at high risk of exposure to toxic pesticides and herbicides used on the fields. Pesticides may damage the parents’ chromosomes and lead to birth defects among children who are conceived during or just after exposure. Birth defects and complications linked to pesticides include:
- Brain cancers
- Endocrine disruption
- Neurological disorders
- Lower birth weight and size
- Premature death
Hazards of heavy metals in coal ash and fly ash
Coal ash and fly ash are the waste products left behind after coal is burned to produce electricity. This waste typically has high concentrations of heavy metals including, arsenic, beryllium, chromium, lead, and mercury, which cause birth defects. When coal ash is dumped onto the ground or into water, these heavy metals can leach into the soil and groundwater. This is of particular concern for communities located near coal ash and fly ash dumps and who draw their drinking water from wells. Likewise, the tiny particles of fly ash create an airborne toxic dust that is easily inhaled. When a pregnant woman is exposed to soil, groundwater, or air contaminated by coal ash or fly ash, the heavy metal toxins can harm her developing baby and cause birth defects so severe that the baby is stillborn or survives for only a short time after birth. Some of the birth defects that have been linked to coal and fly ash exposure include:
- Cranial defects
- Missing or shortened limbs
- Organ malformation
- Facial abnormalities
Birth defects linked to semiconductor solvents
WHO’s 10 Chemicals of Major Public Health Concern
Birth defects linked to pesticides