Teflon poisoning claims

Introduction

Teflon® is a brand name for the polymer polytetrafluoroethene (PTFE), synonymous with non-stick cookware and other coatings.

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Although Teflon® has been established as a generic term for PTFE, the polymer itself is a unique substance. The material does not react with many chemicals and is used in a wide range of domestic and industrial applications - including clothing, pipes and containers for chemicals.

Compensation claims relating to Teflon poisoning are relatively uncommon, but if the substance does relate to the cause of your injuries, you may be able to make a claim.

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Is Teflon toxic?

When used normally, products made with PTFE are safe; however heating Teflon-containing products above 250°C causes the polymer to begin to decompose, releasing harmful fumes.

Polymer fumes can cause fever

A person inhaling these fumes may experience chills, headaches, and fevers, with chest tightness and a mild cough within a few hours of exposure. Usually the symptoms subside within 24-48 hours, and may be dismissed as being an influenza-like infection.

In more severe cases, the toxic effects may cause permanent lung damage. These are often heat dependent - heated to over 450°C PTFE releases further fumes and ultrafine particles, which may result in acute lung injury.

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Exposure to polymer fumes in the workplace

Although it is possible to be exposed to polymer fumes in the home, polymer fume fever is most commonly recorded through exposure in the workplace.

Employees who work in plastic and chemical manufacturing plants, or those using electronic instrument boards may be at risk.

The risk is increased where smoking is allowed in an area that may be contaminated with polymer particles.

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How can exposure be minimised?

The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH) detail an employer's duty to protect employees from exposure to chemicals and other substances in the workplace.

Where a process involves heating of PTFE the employer should conduct a rigorous assessment to identify the risks and precautions needed to protect employees' health.

This includes protecting employees from exposure to polymer fumes. Fume and dust extraction controls must be maintained to work efficiently and employees should be provided with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

Inadequate protective equipment may be sufficient grounds to support a successful claim.

Monitoring risks

All employees should be monitored for exposure by an occupational health professional, and any necessary health checks arranged. Employers should inform, instruct and train all employees who may be exposed to polymer fumes.

Employees have a duty to limit their exposure by using the protective clothing and equipment provided, ensuring that respirators fit properly and are in working order. They should always use extraction or other control methods correctly and report any defects in enclosures, extraction equipment or other control measures.

Always using the washing facilities and not eating, drinking or smoking in areas where polymer particles may be present will prevent oral ingestion.

If any of these issues are overlooked in a workplace with a known risk of exposure, a claim for resulting polymer-related illness has a good chance of success.

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Do I have a Teflon poisoning claim?

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Polymer fume fever is a well-known illness in the industries where PTFE is used, therefore an employer is likely to be negligent if he has failed to protect employees from the harmful effects of polymer fumes.

In rarer cases, members of the public could also be exposed to fumes due to a spillage or inadequate safety measures during disposal / incineration.

A Claimant may be entitled to make a personal injury compensation claim for polymer fume fever if he believes he has have been harmed by exposure to polymer fumes at work or in the environment,

Claimants who suspect they have contracted polymer fume fever should seek medical advice immediately. Straightforward tests will be able to establish if they have been affected by the fumes.

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Understanding No Win, No Fee agreements

No Win, No Fee Teflon poisoning compensation claims get underway with the injured Claimant agreeing a Conditional Fee Agreement (also known as a CFA) with their lawyer.

The CFA is, in essence, the contract between you and your solicitor. The document explains the work provided by your case handler, and crucially, the "success fee". This is the percentage to be taken from your total compensation when the case is successful.

Working with a Quittance personal injury lawyer, you will be able to prioritise your rest and recovery, knowing that there will be absolutely nothing to pay at the outset.

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How much compensation can I claim for Teflon poisoning?

The amount of compensation you will receive depends on a number of factors. Our personal injury compensation calculator provides an accurate estimate of your likely compensation.

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Meet the team

The nationwide panel of Quittance solicitors carry out the legal work for all types of industrial disease claim, from fast track cases to life-changing injuries. Chosen for their track record in winning claims, Quittance's panel solicitors have years of dedicated experience.

Click here to meet more of the Quittance Legal Services team.

Kevin Walker Serious Injury Panel Solicitor
Tim Fieldhouse Industrial Disease Panel Solicitor
Shahida Chaudery Complex Injury Claims Panel Solicitor
Paul Carvis, Personal injury solicitor

About the author

Paul is a member of the Law Society Personal Injury Panel, a member of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers, and has served as a Deputy District Judge, giving him a uniquely broad understanding of the claims process.

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