Workers exposed to toxic chemicals at Boeing facility seek justice

Boeing Chemical Exposure

A former Boeing security guard who claimed she has suffered lasting health issues from exposure to chemical sprays on the job will receive an undisclosed monetary settlement with Boeing and the plaintiff’s former employer, the security company Allied Universal.

In November 2019, Holly Hawthorne worked security at Boeing’s Everett Campus, where employees used aerosolized chemical sprays for plane assembly and maintenance, according to a lawsuit that she filed.

Boeing never informed her that  industrial-grade “corrosion inhibiting compounds” were in use at the facility, according to the lawsuit. She also claimed she wasn’t given protective gear and that the building lacked proper ventilation.

Consequently, Hawthorne was repeatedly exposed to toxic chemicals. These chemicals can cause major health issues, according to the companies who manufacture them. Hawthorne said she experienced migraines, skin issues and breathing problems from repeated exposure to the toxins.

Allied Universal denied any knowledge of the chemicals in its response to the allegations. However, the security company reportedly let other employees request to be moved out of the building due to exposure to chemicals.

Boeing acknowledged Hawthorne worked at the Everett plant but denied she was exposed to chemicals.

About the Chemicals Used at the Everett Campus

One of the chemicals Hawthorne claimed she was exposed to while working for Boeing is a form of hexavalent chromium, which is harmful to the eyes, skin and respiratory system, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) considers all hexavalent chromium compounds to be occupational carcinogens that can cause harm to workers who are exposed to them.

An industrial hygienist for the Everett plant warned in 2020 that “hundreds of Boeing employees are at risk” of developing lung cancer or other forms of cancer due to the high levels of hexavalent chromium at the plant, “regardless of respiratory protection.”

In an email to colleagues, the industrial hygienist, who was responsible for analyzing workplace hazards, noted that airborne levels of hexavalent chromium “greatly exceed the legal permissible exposure limit” in the factory’s paint operations. The industrial hygienist argued for the elimination of hexavalent chromium in the manufacturing process.

Known for its anti-corrosion properties, hexavalent chromium is still being used by Boeing, despite its rank on the company’s list of chemical concerns, according to company records.

Other Incidents of Chemical Exposure at the Everett Campus

Hawthorne’s case isn’t the first time Boeing has come under scrutiny for exposing workers to toxic chemicals at the Everett site.

  • In January 2020, Boeing was fined $4,800 after several security guards at the Everett facility complained of headaches, chest pains, breathing issues and other symptoms following  exposure to chemicals. The month before, two Boeing employees had sprayed toxic chemicals in a building at the Everett site without first warning security guards nearby. The guards were not wearing protective gear at the time.
  • Boeing has faced a series of lawsuits filed by the families of former factory workers whose children were born with birth defects. The families claimed chemicals used on-site caused these birth defects. Boeing reached a settlement with one of the plaintiffs, who is now 42 years old and living with a defective heart.

How We Help Victims of Boeing Toxic Exposure

The attorneys of our birth defect victims’ alliance understand the pain that families face when coping with life-altering birth defects—and the frustration of knowing they could have been prevented. Our team has over 40 years of combined experience in birth defects litigation in cases involving semiconductor and electronics manufacturing, pesticides and energy production. We have the resources and experience to fight on behalf of our clients against corporations like Boeing, which have put them in danger. Call us to see how we can help you and your family receive justice for birth defects.

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