A toxic tort the legal term for the harm that results from wrongful exposure to a harmful chemical or biological substance through ingestion, inhalation, skin contact, or skin absorption. Examples of toxic tort litigation include cases concerning lead paint (causes brain damage, especially in children), asbestos (causes lung cancer, restrictive lung disease), pesticides (cause birth injuries), toxic molds (cause various symptoms), and electromagnetic fields from utility wires or major appliances (suspected to cause cancer), and toxic landfill/spill waste (causes leukemia, and other syndromes).
Toxic substances are regulated under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The TSCA was enacted in 1976 to give the EPA the ability to track the 75,000 industrial chemicals currently produced or imported into the United States. The EPA repeatedly screens these chemicals and can require reporting or testing of those that may pose an environmental or human health hazard. The EPA can ban the manufacture and import of those chemicals that pose an unreasonable risk. Despite government efforts to protect your health, millions of people at home, at work, and during their leisure time are exposed to and injured by toxic substances every day.
Due to the nature of toxic substance accidents and long latency periods, many cases are often not brought until years after victims discover they were exposed to the toxins. Exposure to toxic substances is particularly harmful to industrial workers who may have been exposed to high levels of toxins over a long period of time. Exposure to toxic substances is also particularly harmful to children who are generally more sensitive to toxic agents and who have a greater likelihood of exposure as a result of play habits and behavior patterns. It is rare for toxic exposure to affect just one person, especially in cases of environmental contamination. It is very common for groups of people who have all been exposed to the same toxin because of the same event (for instance, an accidental release of radiation from a nuclear power plant) or because of the same occupation (for instance, repeated exposure to dry cleaning fluid by people in the cleaning industry) to bring legal claims as a group in order to seek redress for wrongful toxic exposure. As a result, toxic tort cases are often brought as class actions.
There are many different legal theories, including negligence, premises liability, breach of warranty, misrepresentation, and strict products liability that are used to establish liability. Proving that a toxic substance has injured a person, however, requires hard work and experience.