Study Investigates EMF Exposure and Cancer Link
Parker Waichman LLP is a national law firm with decades of experience representing workers in lawsuits over occupational hazards. The firm is currently investigating potential lawsuits on behalf of railroad workers who developed cancer, allegedly due to working conditions. Lawyers are investigating claims of cancer associated with benzene exposure and exposure to extremely low frequency magnetic fields (ELF-MF).
In 2007, the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine published a study analyzing whether ELF-MF exposure was associated with death from leukemia and brain tumors. Researchers studied over 20,000 Swiss railway workers with follow-up between 1972 and 2002. The authors compared the train drivers, who are considered highly exposed (21 microteslas per year) to less-exposed employees such as station masters, who have an average exposure of 1 microtesla per year.
Overall, the authors found “Some evidence of an exposure–response association was found for myeloid leukaemia and Hodgkin’s disease, but not for other haematopoietic and lymphatic malignancies and brain tumours.” Researchers noted at the time that studies on the cancer risk of ELF-MF yielded mixed results.
In choosing Swiss railroad workers at the study cohort, the authors explained that “…railway employees are an attractive group for cohort studies into magnetic fields. In Switzerland railway workers are generally employed long term, resulting in limited job changes. The exposure conditions at a given workplace are well characterised but vary greatly across different occupations, with train drivers being exposed to very high ELF‐MF levels and exposure in other employees comparable to that of the general population.”
Railroad Worker Lawsuits: Benzene Exposure and Cancer
In the United States, federal laws offer certain protections to railroad workers. Specifically, the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA), passed by Congress in 1908, ensures that railroad workers have legal rights if they become injured or ill due to their job. FELA allows an injured railroad worker to recover damages for pain, suffering and emotional distress in a jury trial. This is distinct from workers’ compensation.
Personal injury attorneys are investigating possible lawsuits on behalf of railroad workers diagnosed with cancer, allegedly due to benzene exposure. Benzene is a highly flammable chemical that is known to cause cancer in humans. It is produced in nature, as well as through man-made activities such as gas emission and tobacco smoke. Benzene is hazardous when inhaled or absorbed through the skin.
Because railroad workers are exposed to diesel fumes, they may have greater exposure to benzene. In light of the health risks, the government has implemented stricter regulations and occupational exposure to benzene has declined in the past several decades.
Natural sources of benzene include volcanoes and forest fires. Crude oil, gasoline, and cigarette smoke also contain this carcinogen. Certain industries use benzene to make other materials, such as plastics, resins, nylons and synthetic fibers. Lubricant, rubbers, dyes, detergents, drugs and pesticides production may also involve benzene. Benzene is one of the most commonly used chemicals in the country, ranking in the top 20 for production volume, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
According to the American Cancer Society, human and animal studies have shown that benzene is carcinogenic. Most of the findings suggest that benzene increases the risk of leukemia and other cancers of blood cells. Researchers have found that workers with occupational exposure to benzene have higher rates of acute myeloid leukemia (AML). These individuals may work in the chemical, shoe making or oil refining industries.
Benzene may also be linked to other blood cancers, including childhood leukemia (particularly AML), acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL), chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CL), multiple myeloma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. However, the evidence for these cancers is not as strong as for AML.
The CDC says people exposed to benzene may experience the following symptoms:
• Rapid or irregular heartbeat
• Death (at very high levels)
Benzene exposure can also lead to anemia, or an abnormally low number of red blood cells. Benzene can also lead to excessive bleeding, impair the immune system and raise the risk of infection.
“Some women who breathed high levels of benzene for many months had irregular menstrual periods and a decrease in the size of their ovaries. It is not known whether benzene exposure affects the developing fetus in pregnant women or fertility in men.” CDC states on its website. “The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has determined that benzene causes cancer in humans. Long-term exposure to high levels of benzene in the air can cause leukemia, cancer of the blood-forming organs.”
Questions about Filing a Lawsuit?
If you or someone you know is interested in filing a lawsuit involving Railroad worker benzene exposure or other occupational hazards, contact one of our personal injury attorneys today. Parker Waichman offers free, no-obligation case evaluations. For more information, fill out our online form or call 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).