I’ve been doing environmental contamination cases for about 20 year now, and have talked to hundreds of families who have gotten the bad news that there is a dangerous chemical in their water, air or yard. What I have learned over the process of talking to these people and being their lawyer in court, is that there are a series of questions that families need to get answers to in order to make good decisions to protect their home and family. Those 10 critical questions are:
1) What is the chemical contaminating my home and how dangerous is it? Depending on the kind of chemical, the dangers can be very extreme or very minimal. For example, there is a family of chemicals called volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including TCE and PCE, that have been studied for years and whose dangers are fairly well known. Others are not so well known. You need to insist on being told what specific chemicals are involved because then you can start getting answers to the question: how dangerous is it? This is especially important if you have children. Recent studies have shown that many of these chemicals are more dangerous to children because their immune systems are not fully formed, and they don’t process toxins as efficiently as adults. If you are dealing with one of these chemicals, it’s very important that you know because that drives what kind of protections you will need to insist on for your family.
2) How long has my family been exposed to this toxic chemical? Why do you need to know this? Because for most of these chemicals, the longer the exposure the greater the danger, especially for children. Many of these chemicals are odorless and tasteless, and you would never know you are being exposed to them. You need someone to tell you how long the chemical has been in your home, because that lets you know how concerned you should be about health issues.