The Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP) today has a fascinating review piece about the growing research on fathers’ environmental exposures and children’s developmental injuries. The article mentions that the earliest study of these types of effects was in 1974 in an article on the increased risk of cancer for the children of auto mechanics and machinists. Today’s EHP article talks about how research on parental exposure and children’s diseases has matured and how mechanisms are being explored today.
We’ve been tracking this research since Praedicat began. At Praedicat, we are dedicated to understanding how today’s scientific hypotheses can result in tomorrow’s litigation. We examine how research on environmental exposures can lead to insurance exposures for liability insurers. Particularly in areas where the science is novel, the resulting insurer exposure might look very different than litigations that have occurred in the past. Praedicat mines these emerging scientific literatures to simulate the potential footprint in an insurer’s portfolio. This type of simulation is critical to good risk management.For the scientific literature reviewed in the EHP article, it is important for insurers to recognize that if litigation ever emerged over occupational exposures and children’s developmental injuries, it would be covered by general liability and not by workers’ compensation. Workers’ compensation covers the workers and not their children. Injuries to the children of workers resulting from things that happened at work would be covered by general liability. In addition, the number of defendants in a litigation like this could be large, resulting in significant clash, and a large number of smaller companies might be implicated. For instance, following up on the example, auto repair shops and machine shops could be exposed.The goal of this exercise is not to scare insurers. The best insurers bring knowledge and insights about risk to their customers. Armed with the latest science, liability insurance could be the best vehicle we have to help employers better understand how to make workplaces safer not just for the workers but for their children as well.
Efforts to understand how environmental effects on sperm predispose children to health problems are gaining momentum, with researchers calling for new and expanded human studies to address critical data gaps, including potential paternal effects on neurodevelopment, asthma, allergies, and cardiovascular function.