Diesel Exhaust

Railroad workers are at elevated risk for cancer and respiratory conditions. Why is that? Because virtually all of the railroad crafts endure chronic exposure to diesel exhaust.

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    Does Diesel Exhaust Cause Cancer?

    Yes. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies diesel exhaust as a Group 1 carcinogen.1 Moreover, IARC also classifies many of the constituents of diesel exhaust as Group 1 carcinogens. Group 1 carcinogens are toxins that are known to cause cancer. Examples of other group 1 carcinogens include asbestosbenzenetobacco, and plutonium.

    What Cancers are Caused by Exposure to Diesel Exhaust?

    Exposure to diesel exhaust is known to cause lung cancer and it has been strongly associated with numerous others. Exposure to diesel exhaust can also cause a variety of respiratory conditions such as diesel asthma. If you or a loved one has been exposed to diesel exhaust and have been diagnosed with one of the following you may be eligible for compensation.

    Which Railroad Workers are Exposed to Diesel Exhaust?

    No matter the craft, railroad employees are exposed to diesel exhaust. Traditionally, locomotive machinists, electricians and pipefitters working in improperly ventilated shops where locomotives were cold started and left idling suffered some of the worst exposures. Railroad car department employees who work in car shops with diesel powered equipment and along trains during inspections aren’t too far behind. Obviously the locomotive crews – engineers, brakemen, firemen, and conductors – breathe diesel exhaust that comes in through the windows, doors, electrical panels and floors. How many of you regularly used duct tape in a hopeless attempt to keep the diesel fumes out of the locomotive cabs? Track department employees work alongside and operate diesel-powered equipment. Even the gate-checkers and clerical workers suffer regular diesel exposures when they’re working in the yard.


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    When did the Railroads Know that Diesel Exhaust is Hazardous?

    Official records maintained by the Association of American Railroads (AAR) have revealed that the railroads were aware that diesel exhaust was dangerous to employees since at least 1955. Despite being aware of the danger, the railroads did not take any actions to mitigate the risk, or even warn employees, for decades. In fact, the railroads publicly claimed that diesel exhaust was not harmful even after AAR testing in the late 80s and early 90s confirmed the presence of benzene and other known carcinogens in diesel exhaust.

    What can I do if I was Exposed to Diesel Exhaust?

    If you or a loved one was exposed to diesel exhaust at the railroad and have been diagnosed with a related disease, the attorneys at Hughes Law Offices may be able to help. These are complicated cases that require experienced attorneys. While you and your loved ones focus on recovery, let us do the work needed to prove your FELA case. Contact Hughes Law Offices today at 312-877-5588 for a free attorney consultation.


    Diesel Exhaust Verdicts & Settlements

    Settlement (California, 2022)

    Confidential Settlement

    Hughes Law Offices represented a locomotive engineer who worked for Union Pacific Railroad (UP) for over 36 years.  Within two years of his retirement, and despite having never smoked cigarettes, our client was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer. He was 62 years...

    Settlement (Illinois, 2020)

    Confidential Settlement

    Hughes Law Offices represented a locomotive conductor who worked for Union Pacific Railroad (UP) and its predecessor Chicago and North Western Transportation Company (CNW). Our client worked for CNW and UP from 1973 to 2015. A couple years after retiring, he was...

    Verdict (Tennessee, 2014)


    The Decedent worked as a mechanic in Illinois Central’s Trigg Avenue and Johnston Yard maintenance shops in Tennessee from 1974 to 2007. He died of squamous cell oropharyngeal (throat) cancer in 2008. The Decedent’s wife brought suit against Illinois Central alleging that the Decedent’s...

    Verdict (Wyoming, 2010)


    A former railroad engineer developed pulmonary fibrosis, a fatal lung disease, after a 29-year career working for BNSF. During his employment, he was exposed to diesel exhaust while riding in locomotives, silica dust from the railroad ballast, dust from the locomotive and sand hoppers, and asbestos from...

    Verdict (Michigan, 2009)


    The plaintiff, a locomotive engineer in his early 60s, developed diesel asthma as a result of exposure to diesel exhaust while riding in locomotives. His condition was permanent and was expected to reduce his life expectancy. (Battaglia v. Conrail).

    Hughes Law Offices is providing case histories to inform visitors about actual case fact patterns and rulings in your area. Unless specifically noted, the cases summarized herein were not handled by attorneys at Hughes Law Offices.



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    Verdicts and Settlements

    Survey of Railroad Cancer Claims

    Hughes Law Offices is providing case histories to inform visitors about actual case fact patterns and rulings.
    Unless specifically noted, the cases summarized herein were not handled by attorneys at Hughes Law Offices.
    See All Verdicts



    Railroad carman died of pulmonary fibrosis following 18 years of welding.



    Locomotive engineer in his early 60’s developed diesel asthma.



    Railroad mechanic diagnosed with squamous cell oropharyngeal cancer.



    Trainman died of nasopharyngeal cancer as a result of working on-board locomotives filled with diesel exhaust.



    Retired railroad employee died of lung cancer as a result of workplace asbestos exposure.



    61 year old railroad conductor diagnosed with interstitial fibrosis and an increased risk of lung cancer as a result of exposure to diesel exhaust.

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