It is well established that many of the chemicals and substances railroaders
are exposed to can lead to different types of cancer. The most common
cancers railroaders experience due to work related exposures are lung
related, such as lung cancer or mesothelioma. More and more studies, however,
have revealed a connection between similar exposures and different types
Leukemia is a type of cancer that starts in the bone marrow and then affects
different types of blood cells depending on the type of leukemia. Acute
Myeloid Leukemia (AML), for example, most commonly starts in the bone
marrow and then develops in cells that would turn into white blood cells.
For more information on the development of AML visit the
American Cancer Society’s website.
The most common chemical exposure that causes AML is benzene. Benzene is
a clear and flammable liquid with a sweet odor. Benzene has been an ingredient
in different solvents used by railroads and is also a component of diesel
exhaust. Despite being classified as a known carcinogen by the
American Cancer Society,
the International Agency for Research on Cancer, and
the World Health Organization it is still widely used in the United States. Most railroaders come into
contact with benzene through diesel fuel exhaust. As a result railroad
machinists, engineers, conductors, electricians, and laborers are commonly
exposed to benzene in their day to day work.
This is a potentially life threatening issue for many railroaders as a 2016
study found as little as five years of benzene exposure significantly increases
a person’s chances of developing AML. The study also found a close
association between benzene exposure of less than five years and developing AML.
Benzene is not the only common substance that railroaders come into contact
with that may cause AML. As early as 1988
researchers have been looking at the potential link between asbestos exposure and AML. However, to date
only a few studies have looked at the link. But, despite the low number
of studies conducted, the ones that have shown a connection between asbestos
exposure and AML.
AML is a fast moving cancer and may be fatal in as little as a few months
if left untreated.
Railroad workers who develop cancer through occupational exposure may
bear a considerable financial burden. While many cancers have an unknown
source, cancers due to occupational exposures have known sources and compensation
may be available. If you would like to consult with a railroad cancer
Common symptoms of AML are weight loss, fatigue, fever, night sweats, and loss of appetite.
Of course you should contact your doctor if you are experiencing these
types of treatment associated with AML are chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and in an increasing
amount of targeted therapies.