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VICTIMS OF DIESEL EXPOSURES

Myelodysplastic Syndrome

Published on July 16th, 2019 by Andrew L. Hughes

Myelodysplastic syndromes occur where a group of poorly formed blood cells do not function properly, and therefore there are not enough healthy blood cells in the body. These syndromes happen as a result of bone marrow improperly making blood cells.

Myelodysplastic syndromes develop over a longer period of time and are typically undetected in their initial stages. According to American Cancer Society, 1 in 3 patients with myelodysplastic syndrome (or “MDS”) will eventually have their condition progress to a rapidly growing bone marrow cancer called acute myeloid leukemia (“AML”).

Myelodysplastic Syndrome and Benzene

Exposure to benzene is one of the most common risk factors associated with myelodysplastic syndrome. Benzene is a component of petroleum products including diesel fuel and gasoline and is often used as a base material in products like plastics, degreasers, solvents, paints, thinners, lubricants, pesticides, rubbers, dyes, resins, and nylons.

Other Causes of Myelodysplastic Syndrome

Alongside benzene, there are other causes of myelodysplastic syndromes that can be found especially in industrial workplaces. These include solvents, ammonia, agricultural chemicals, mercury, and lead.

Solvents, including chemicals like trichloroethylene and perchloroethylene, are used in industrial workplaces to degrease metal parts and make other chemicals. The risk of myelodysplastic syndrome is increased where these solvents are used on a continuous basis.

Ammonia is a common chemical used in fertilizers and disinfectants. Ammonia is used in the production of plastics, textiles, pesticides, and other chemicals, and many industrial settings use ammonia-based cleaning supplies because of its strength. Chronic ammonia exposures can contribute to many health issues including an increased risk of myelodysplastic syndrome.

Agricultural chemicals like pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers are also known to increase one’s risk of getting myelodysplastic syndrome. These solutions have been known to contribute to a multitude of disorders and illnesses in humans, including non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and acute myeloid leukemia. Benzene is often found in herbicides and pesticides, and therefore these chemicals can be associated with myelodysplastic syndrome.

Exposure to mercury and lead have also been known to increase the risk of myelodysplastic syndrome. Mercury can be very dangerous to humans even at smaller quantities, and it can be found in the exhaust of diesel-powered engines like trains and industrial trucks. Lead compounds are also found in many diesel and gasoline products and can be ingested by humans through the exhaust. Both materials can lead to an increased risk of getting myelodysplastic syndrome.

Myelodysplastic Syndrome – Difficult to Diagnose

About 13,000 people are diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome in the U.S. each year. It is rare for myelodysplastic syndrome to show any symptoms in its early stages, so it often goes undetected for longer periods of time. When symptoms do occur, these include weight loss, fever, and bone pain. The diagnosis process often begins after a blood test reveals low blood cell counts. Having too few red blood cells is known as anemia, and can cause people to feel dizzy, tired, have a shortness of breath, and have pale skin. Not having enough white blood cells is known as leukopenia, and this can lead to frequent, more serious infections throughout the body. Having a lesser number of platelets is known as thrombocytopenia, and this can lead to easy bruising and excessive bleeding. These are all symptoms that can occur with myelodysplastic syndrome.

Once it has been determined that a patient has myelodysplastic syndrome, treatment methods will be chosen. Patients can treat their MDS through chemotherapy, radiation, and stem cell transplants, as well as blood transfusions to increase the patient’s blood cell growth. Bone marrow transplants are also common for more high-risk patients. The specific treatment plan for each patient is determined by looking at the type of myelodysplastic syndrome, as well as the patient’s overall health and desires.

Contact a Diesel Injury Lawyer

If you believe you are suffering from myelodysplastic syndrome due to diesel or other toxic workplace exposures, our team at Diesel Injury Law can fight on your behalf. Contact us today to get started.

Illustrative MDS Case Verdicts

$2,296,000 verdict – plaintiff was a lab technician for Chevron Research & Technology Co., where he tested the performance of oils in both diesel and gasoline engines. He was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome, which later metastasized into acute myeloid leukemia. It was found that the benzene levels in the gasoline was the cause of his diagnosis.

(Antonio Laico, et al. v. Chevron U.S.A., Inc. et al.)

$2,750,000 verdict – 33-year-old carpenter was employed by the Mobil Oil Refinery as part of the Clean Fuels Project. He died following a diagnosis of myelodysplastic syndrome and acute myelogenous leukemia from exposure to petroleum hydrocarbon vapors, and benzene from contaminated soil.

(Richard Keaton and Judith Lewis v. Mobil Oil Corporation and Allwaste Environmental Services)

$7,500,000 verdict – plaintiff worked as a gasoline tanker truck driver for Kinder Morgan Energy Partners for 6 years. During his years of employment, plaintiff loaded gasoline in a terminal between one to seven times a day for delivery. He was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome and died at age 58.

(Sharon Claytor, personal representative of the Estate of Rick D. Lewis and Hilarie Lewis, heir to Rick D. Lewis v. Kinder Morgan Energy Partners)

Undisclosed Settlement – plaintiff developed myelodysplastic syndrome as a result of exposure to diesel fuel, diesel exhaust, benzene, and various solvents and degreasers.

(Thomas J. Soden v. Amtrak)

$3,520,000 verdict – plaintiff was a contracted tanker truck driver for a period of 6 years. He regularly transported pyrolysis gasoline, which contained 40 percent benzene. Plaintiff was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome due to the benzene exposure, which soon turned into acute myeloid leukemia and eventually took his life.

(Case Cheri Dahlin, Individually and on Behalf of the Estate of Dean Dahlin, Deceased v. Lyondell Chemical Company, Equistar Chemicals, LP, Equistar GP, LLC, Archer-Daniels-Midland Company, Getty Chemical Company, ACC Chemical Company, Occidental Chemical Corporation, CF Industries Holdings, Inc. and CF Industries Sales, LLC / Archer-Daniels-Midland Company v. Equistar Chemicals, LP, Equistar GP, LLC, Lyondell Chemical Company, and Occidental Chemical Corporation / CF Industries Holdings, Inc. v. Lyondell Chemical Company, Occidental Chemical Corporation Equistar Chemicals, LP, Equistar GP, LLC, ACC Chemical Company and Getty Chemical Company)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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