American aircraft manufacturer Boeing is facing several lawsuits alleging workers were exposed to chemicals while working in its factories, leading to the birth defects in their children.
The latest lawsuits filed by two separate families claim the manufacturer did not protect them from exposure to dangerous chemicals despite knowing since the 1980s that the chemicals used in the workplace can cause birth defects.
According to a report by NBC’s King5, one of the plaintiffs, Mike Evans, had been working on the Boeing 777 line at the company’s production facility in Everett, Washington in 2014. A lawsuit filed by him claims he was exposed to “volatile organic solvents” and “heavy metals” on the job, leading to birth defects in his unborn child.
The child’s mother also worked at Boeing and was exposed to toxic chemicals during her pregnancy.
In July 2017, their son was born with Spina Bifida along with other defects and will be “disabled for the rest of his life”.
Although Boeing’s Environmental Health & Safety division has implemented policies to reduce employee exposure to toxic chemicals, the Evans claim that the “written policies are often not enforced by Boeing’s production managers.”
Meanwhile, Boeing fuel tank seeker John Klemming also filed a lawsuit against the US aircraft manufacturer, asserting that he was exposed to toxic chemicals that resulted in birth defects in his child, rendering him “non-verbal and unable to live an independent existence.”
Klemming said that a direct and proximate exposure to developmental toxicants at Boeing, caused his son to be born with OHDO Syndrome, ventricular septal defect, autism and intellectual disability.
Birth defects can occur from chemical exposures to the father before conception, and the mother during pregnancy. The toxic chemicals can disrupt the parents’ abilities to reproduce or cause them to pass on damaged and defective DNA to their children.
A November 2022 report by law firm Waters, Kraus and Paul attest that Boeing has known that chemicals in its workplace could cause birth defects, stillbirths, infertility, cancer, and other serious illnesses “since the 1970s”.
“Boeing has been aware for decades that some of the chemicals it uses can cause birth defects, and other harm to the children of its employees, including childhood cancer,” Michael Connett, partner at Waters, Kraus and Paul said.
“Boeing has consistently failed to disclose these risks, leaving its workers, and their families, in the dark about a hazard that can inflict permanent and catastrophic harm,” Connett added.
Connett said that workers deserve to be told about the hazards of the chemicals they work with.
Workers who were handling chemicals known to cause birth defects at Boeing were never told about the hazard.
Connett said: “Boeing failed its legal and moral responsibility to inform these workers.”