Toxic torts are one of the fastest growing segments of plaintiffs’ filings in the American legal system. In the last century when chemicals became pervasive in our homes and workplaces, their impact was essentially unknown. Science, medicine, and the law are finally catching up, and we are rapidly learning about the massive, adverse impact of these chemicals on the health of all Americans. As the identification of exposure sources becomes increasingly comprehensive, the techniques available to measure the extent of exposure, determine the pathways by which exposure occurs, and establish causation have also greatly advanced.
To fully understand how far we have come, we need to look back nearly 100 years to the dawn of the “chemical era.” The once obscure and seemingly invisible issue of toxic chemical exposure has now come to the forefront, with a greater understanding and heightened visibility of its presence in our lives. Through a combination of governmental action (and inaction) combined with creative and aggressive lawyering, we are beginning to understand that few can escape the havoc wrought by toxic chemicals. Despite nearly nonstop, eye-opening revelations, we still have a long way to go.