Environmental health and pollutant claims

Environmental health is a section of public health which controls and monitors factors in the natural and built environment which may pose a threat to human beings.

This includes:

  • Management of hazardous substances and pollutants
  • Food safety and hygiene
  • Workplace health and hygiene
  • Climate change and sustainability
  • Noise pollution
  • Landfills, recycling and waste management
  • Medical waste disposal
  • Housing
  • Safe drinking water/recreational water, e.g. swimming pools
  • Toxic substance exposure

All of these can be harmful to human health. An environmental health department has a responsibility to ensure that any risks from these are minimised and that guidelines are in place.

But if this is not adhered to or fails in some way then there is an increased risk of an accident or illness. This can happen due to carelessness or incompetence on someone else’s behalf.

One example of this is developing food poisoning due to a lack of care when handling or preparing food. This also includes inadequate storing or transportation of food.

Another example is when someone is exposed to dangerous fumes or substance at work due to a lack of protection or health and safety guidelines.

There are many occasions where people are injured or become ill due to environmental pollutants. This may have occurred as a result of an accident or within a work environment but whatever the cause it can lead to serious physical and psychological trauma.

Environmental health and pollutant incidents

These include:

  • Exposure to chemical spillages
  • Exposure to dangerous fumes
  • Exposure to toxic waste
  • Eating contaminated food
  • Exposure to polluted water
  • Legionnaires Disease

In certain cases such as Legionnaires Disease, several people are affected. There are cases where more than person has been injured or become ill due to negligence on the part of a business, organisation or authority.

Impact of exposure to an environmental pollutant

Exposure to a hazardous substance, chemical or material can have long term effects on your health. These may be relatively mild but in other situations they can lead to a chronic condition which impacts upon your quality of life.

Unfortunately, it is not only you that is affected. The consequences of exposure to a pollutant can affect your family as well. They may be faced with having to come to terms with your illness or injury which isn’t easy.

Plus there may be financial ramifications as well. Your illness or injury may cause you to change jobs or give up work altogether which then puts a strain upon the family finances. You may require specialist care, medication and treatment, all of which is costly in both terms of time and money.

This is where compensation can help. It can help to cover the costs of treatment, care or any other services and may ease the stress caused by your illness or injury.

Making a claim for compensation for an illness or injury caused by an environmental pollutant

Look for a solicitor or personal injury lawyer who specialises in these types of claims. They should have expertise and understanding of the issues surrounding your claim and approach it in a sympathetic manner.

This includes listening to your concerns about the likelihood of any long term effects, e.g. cancer, due to exposure to a harmful chemical or substance.

A lawyer or solicitor will guide you through the claims process and will advise you about the importance of obtaining evidence to support your claim.

There are government bodies such as the Environment Agency (www.environment-agency.gov.uk) and the Health Protection Agency (www.hpa.org.uk) which you may find useful. They are both concerned with protecting public health by reducing the risk of infections or contamination.

If you want to know more about the compensation process then visit our making a claim for compensation section.

Time limit for claiming compensation for an illness or injury caused by an environmental pollutant

Many personal injury claims have a 3 year time limit but this may differ in these types of claims.

The reason for that is you may have developed a chronic illness over a long period of time following exposure to a hazardous substance. In some cases this may have developed over 20 years or more.

Ask your lawyer or solicitor about the deadline for making a compensation claim of this sort.

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