Previous posts have discussed the different diseases, including lung and
other forms of cancer, which can result from prolonged occupational exposure
to harmful substances such as diesel exhaust, asbestos, silica sand, welding
fumes, solvents, and other chemicals. Chemicals occurring in rubber and
petroleum-based products, such as diesel fuel, can also cause Myelodysplastic
Syndromes that may develop into Acute Myeloid Leukemia.
Myelodysplastic Syndromes (MDS) occur when cells in bone marrow that create blood become abnormal,
resulting in a low count of one or more types of blood cells (red blood
cells, white blood cells, and platelets). Red blood cells transport oxygen
and carbon dioxide throughout the body, and a low red blood cell count
is called anemia.
Symptoms of anemia include fatigue, dizziness, weakness, shortness of breath, and
pale skin. White blood cells help protect against infection, and platelets
are necessary for blood to clot and prevent excessive or abnormal bleeding.
MDS is a form of cancer, and progresses to
Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) in every one in three patients. AML in railroad workers was discussed
in a previous
blog. Abnormalities in blood forming cells result from
gene mutations, which are inherited or acquired throughout a lifetime from exposure to
substances such as tobacco smoke, radiation, and benzene or other chemicals.
Railroaders, particularly engineers, conductors, electricians, machinists,
carmen, laborers, and other railroad crafts, have likely been exposed
to significant levels of benzene on a daily basis as a result of their
work. Benzene is a component of diesel fuel, and pollutes the air after
particulate matter and gas in diesel exhaust. Benzene was also an active ingredient in solvents
and degreasers used by railroads to clean locomotive parts. The
American Cancer Society, the
International Agency for Research on Cancer, and the
World Health Organization have labeled benzene a class one carcinogen, meaning that it can cause
cancer in humans. Older or unmaintained diesel powered engines and machines
produce larger amounts of exhaust. This is
particularly dangerous when working in close proximity to the engines or motors, or in enclosed
or poorly ventilated areas such as railroad tunnels and diesel locomotive
repair shops. If you are a railroad worker who has been diagnosed with
MDS, AML, or another disease due to occupational exposures and would like
to consult a railroad cancer attorney, please
contact us today.