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Injuries and illnesses Caused by Household Cleaners

Household cleaners are used in most homes in the United States. Although cleaning agents are trusted to remove stains and spills how much do we really know about them? Injuries and illnesses caused by household cleaners seldom make headlines, but many of these products are linked to serious health conditions.

The lack of transparency over the products in cleaners and what impact they may have on the environment and human health has sparked lawsuits against the manufacturers.

Virginia Dangerous Products Lawyers

In some cases, people who regularly used household cleaners suffered irreversible damage to their health. When a manufacturer fails to label its ingredients properly, the person who became ill may have grounds to file a product liability lawsuit.

Some of the more serious side effects of household cleaners as well as garden products like Roundup have only become apparent in recent years.

Household Cleaners Can be as Detrimental as Smoking

A study in 2018 from the University of Bergen in Norway found regularly using household cleaning sprays can be as damaging to your health as smoking a packet of cigarettes a day.

The researchers from Norway tracked 6,000 people in their 30s who used cleaning products over a period of two decades, according to research published in the American Thoracic Society’s American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

The study found a marked decline in lung function in women who regularly used household cleaning products. The lung function of women who worked as cleaners was equivalent over the 20-year period to people with a 20-cigarette daily smoking habit.

Researchers said while more is becoming known about the link between household cleaners and asthma, there’s a lack of knowledge about the long-term impact of cleaning products on human health.

Generally, the products seemed to affect the lung capacity of women who participated in the study more than men although the majority of those who took part were women.

The study followed research by French scientists in 2017. Researchers suggested nurses who used disinfectants to clean surfaces at least once a week were 24-32 percent more likely to develop lung disease.

That research suggested even non-intensive use of household cleaners may cause cancer.

Do Cleaning Products Cause Breast Cancer?

A study carried out in the United States eight years ago, pointed to a possible link between cleaning products and breast cancer.

The research found household cleaning products containing carcinogenic substances like methylene chloride may cause breast cancer.

Researchers interviewed almost 800 women from Massachusetts who were diagnosed with breast cancer from 1988 to 1995. They compared them with 721 control subjects. The research published in 2010 by the online journal Environmental Health, suggested cleaning products contribute to an increased risk of breast cancer.

Dangerous Chemicals in Household Cleaning Products

Cleaning products contain a wide range of toxins that are harmful to human health including:


Triclosan is an aggressive antibacterial agent that can lead to the growth of drug-resistant bacteria. A number of studies found dangerous concentrations of triclosan in waterways where it is toxic to algae. The Environmental Protection Agency has investigated whether triclosan may also disrupt the human endocrine (hormonal) function. Triclosan is also in toothpaste and is linked to increased rates of colitis and colon cancer.


Products heavy on fragrance like dish soap and air fresheners may contain phthalates, but manufacturers are unlikely to list them on the label. Phthalates are known disruptors of the endocrine system. They are linked to reduced sperm counts in men.

Perchloroethylene (PERC)

Perc is found in dry-cleaning solutions and carpet and upholstery cleaners. It is a neurotoxin and a possible carcinogen, according to the New York Attorney General’s Office. California plans to phase it out. People who live in buildings close to dry cleaners have reported symptoms like dizziness and loss of concentration, possibly linked to percs.


Butoxyethanol is the key ingredient in many window cleaners and gives them their characteristic sweet smell. This powerful solvent is linked to a host of serious conditions including narcosis, severe liver and kidney damage, and pulmonary edema.

Quaternary Ammonium Compounds (Quats)

Quats are found in fabric softeners. They are a type of antimicrobial. They can breed antibiotic-resistant bacteria. They are also a known skin irritant.


Chlorine is used in a wide range of cleaning products including toilet bowl cleaners, laundry whiteners, and scouring powders. Chlorine is chronic irritant and has been linked to a range of health problems including thyroid issues.

Lawsuits Pressure Manufacturers to Reveal Ingredients

A lack of information about the active ingredients in cleaning products sparked a recent lawsuit in New York as activists from the American Lung Association and the Sierra Club sought to force manufacturers to reveal what makes up household products like Tide and Ajax.

In 2017, New York State announced the launch of a new initiative to require all makers of household cleaning products sold in the state to disclose chemical ingredients on their websites.

New York became the first state in the country to require manufacturers to disclose the active ingredients in their household cleaning products. Such policies can allow consumers to find out if chemicals with negative health impacts for humans and the environment are present in cleaning products.

Contact a Virginia Product Liability Lawyer

The Smith Law Center has been helping clients since 1949. The firm has won many multi-million dollar lawsuits. Our Hampton-based lawyers take on some of the most difficult cases in the Commonwealth and elsewhere. Please contact us for a consultation.

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If you or a relative had a severe reaction to military housing mold, it might be time to talk with a toxic mold lawyer. Mold is everywhere, and can be dangerous. Researchers have linked mold to serious respiratory illnesses in some individuals.

Smith Law Center may be able to help if a property owner failed to keep you safe from mold in your military housing. We are one of Virginia’s oldest and most successful firms. We know how to hold negligent property owners responsible, especially when the military is involved.

Call us at (757) 244-700 or contact us online to set up a free consultation. There’s no fee for learning more about Virginia mold laws, your rights, and your legal options.

Mold in Military Housing

Black mold in military housing became widely known when Reuters published an investigation in 2018. Since then, the Department of Defense and the housing providers were supposed to take steps to improve the situation.

Unfortunately, a 2020 audit by the DoD Office of Inspector General found many issues, including the need for mold remediation, still persist.

Monetary Awards in Military Housing Toxic Mold Cases

If the property owner lets toxic mold run wild and continue to cause you harm, talk with our toxic mold attorneys about filing a lawsuit.

You may receive financial compensation for:

Service members and their families do not receive different types of damages than civilians. These are civil lawsuits in traditional courts of law.

Military Housing Mold Toxicity Symptoms

The Institute of Medicine discovered there was evidence connecting exposure to indoor mold with:

  • Upper respiratory tract symptoms;
  • Coughing;
  • Wheezing;
  • Asthma symptoms in individuals with asthma; and
  • Hypersensitivity pneumonitis in individuals with weak immune systems.

There is also limited evidence that mold causes respiratory illnesses in healthy children or causes people to develop asthma.

Understanding Exposure to Toxic Mold in Military Housing

The topic of toxic mold is complicated. This Is in part because the term “toxic mold” isn’t accurate. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains mold isn’t toxic or poisonous. However, some molds are toxigenic, which means they produce toxins called mycotoxins.

Mold is common in military housing because it’ll grow anywhere there’s moisture. That includes on and inside walls, carpet, upholstery, wallpaper, and heating and air conditioning systems. This is especially pronounced in humid conditions such as those present in Virginia.

Some people have no difficulties around mold, even large infestations in their homes. Other individuals are sensitive to molds, including those that produce mycotoxins. Someone can have a severe reaction when exposed to a large amount of mold indoors.

People may be more likely to experience mold toxicity symptoms if they have:

  • Allergies,
  • An underlying lung disease,
  • Immune suppression,
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder,
  • Asthma, or
  • Another chronic respiratory disease.

Common Types of Military Housing Mold

When you’re trying to learn more from the CDC and other resources, you’ll see the word “fungus” a lot. Mold is a type of fungus, which is something that exists all around us. Fungi are living organisms different from animals, plants, and bacteria. There are over 200,000 types of fungi and over 100,000 types of molds.

If you discovered mold in your military housing, it could be Cladosporium, Penicillium, Stachybotrys chartarum, Aspergillus, or many other types. Stachybotrys is what everyone knows as black mold. Aspergillus is a common indoor fungus, which releases mycotoxins and can cause illness. Your symptoms may resemble common allergy or asthma symptoms.

Who is Liable for Military Housing Mold?

Since 1996, most military housing has come under the management of private companies:

  • Belfour Beatty Communities: Fort Eustis and Fort Story/li>
  • Lincoln Military Housing: Dahlgren, Little Creek, Naval Station Norfolk, Northwest Annex, Oceana, Portsmouth, Quantico, and Yorktown/li>
  • Hunt Military Communities: Fort Lee and Langley AFB

Outside of Virginia, Lendlease and Corvias Military Living are two more housing providers. Together, these five companies formed the Military Housing Association.

Military families living in on-base housing must take their complaints to their private management company — not the military. The company is responsible for providing habitable conditions and making repairs, including mold remediation.

If you’re unsure about your rights, review your state law and local ordinances about mold. In general, it’s the landlord’s responsibility to provide a habitable unit, which means it has to be safe to live in. A unit isn’t safe if it’s causing a tenant health issues due to mold.

The Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act requires landlords to disclose if there’s mold in the written report of the move-in inspection. If a tenant discovers visible mold in the unit, then the Act requires the landlord to remove the mold and relocate the tenant until it’s gone at no additional cost to the tenant.

Unfortunately, many families find their housing providers aren’t receptive to complaints. Attorney Stephen M. Smith has handled many mold lawsuits against military housing providers who fail to abide by their lease terms and the law when it comes to mold remediation and other hazards.

Other Hazards in Military Housing

Many service members and their families deal with uncomfortable, if not hazardous, conditions in privatized military housing, including:

Lead Paint: Lead-based paint can cause headaches, nausea, fatigue, irritability, behavioral problems, learning disabilities, seizures, organ damage, and in extreme cases, death.

Asbestos: Exposure to asbestos harms a person’s lungs, and can lead to lung fibrosis (scarring), lung cancer, and mesothelioma.

Radon: Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking. It naturally forms underground, however cracks and gaps in buildings lead to over-exposure indoors.

Poor Water Quality: Dozens of military sites have water with detectable levels of harmful chemicals.

Other issues involve rodent or insect infestations, pesticides, and faulty electrical wiring.

What Happens When a Lot of People Get Sick?

Sometimes mold exposure impacts a single individual or family. However, when the mold spreads throughout military housing, it can impact hundreds or thousands of people.

Occasionally, a large enough group of people are injured to allow for a class action or mass tort lawsuit. A class action lawsuit is one where a class representative acts as the plaintiff on behalf of the group of hurt individuals. Not every victim participates in the lawsuit. There are rules about when a group is big and similar enough to create a class action.

Mass tort lawsuits are different. When there are fewer plaintiffs who have their own set of circumstances, each person files a lawsuit. For efficiency’s sake, one or a couple of law firms may represent most plaintiffs, and the lawsuits are consolidated in a federal court.

Call the Military Housing Mold Lawyers at Smith Law Center for Help Right Away

Mold cases come about in a few ways. You or a loved one may start getting sick, and after weeks or months of struggling to find answers, you finally realize your military housing has a mold infestation. In other cases, you struggle with visible mold and then become ill.

Once you connect the illness with the mold, it’s time to talk with a toxic mold lawyer. Reaching out to an attorney early helps you build a strong compensation claim. We know how to collect evidence, identify who is liable, and craft a successful argument for a settlement or court award.

Attorney Stephen M. Smith has decades of experience handling injury claims and has been internationally recognized for his work. He has litigated cases involving catastrophic injuries and complex legal and scientific issues. In 2019, he was inducted into the Virginia Lawyers Hall of Fame.

You’re in good hands when you come to Smith Law Center for help. Reach out online or call (757) 244-7000 to schedule your 100% free consultation.

Military Housing Mold Lawsuits: FAQs

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