Diesel Exhaust & Lung Cancer

Since the post-World War II dieselization of the United States, it has been widely known that diesel exhaust contains carcinogens. For instance, diesel exhaust contains arsenic, dioxin, benzene and chromium.  Those chemicals and metals are highly potent carcinogens.  So everyone knew that diesel exhaust was full of carcinogens, but for some reason, it took until 2012 for The World Health Organization (“WHO) to declare diesel exhaust itself, a known carcinogen.  

Specifically, the WHO declared that diesel exhaust exposures cause lung cancer. For that reason, it is very difficult for employers like railroads and trucking companies to deny that their employees’ lung cancer claims are unrelated to their workplace diesel exposures.

The Mechanics – Lung Cancer & Diesel Exhaust

Just how does diesel exhaust cause lung cancer?  Many of the most carcinogenic toxins found in diesel exhaust adhere to the soot.  Soot is comprised of very fine particles that are inhaled and deposited into the lungs.  While in the lungs these cancer-causing substances can damage and initiate mutations in lung cells which in turn lead to the development of cancer cells.

Types of Lung Cancer

Diesel exhaust lung cancer can be divided into two types: small-cell lung cancer (SCLC) and non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). The appearance of the tumor cells determines what type of lung cancer is present. SCLC accounts for roughly 10-15 percent of lung cancers while NSCLC accounts for roughly 85 percent of lung cancers.  

The most common lung cancers associated with diesel exhaust exposures are adenocarcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma.

Importance of Lung Cancer Screenings

If you worked around diesel exhaust, it is vital that you inform your doctor about your exposure history.  Doctors who are properly informed about risk factors for lung cancer – such as long term diesel exposures – may approve cancer screening procedures.  Screenings include chest x-rays or low-dose computed tomography (LDCT).  LDCT tests are basically CT scans with low radiation exposures.  Non-smokers with 40-year diesel exposures should fight for these lung cancer screenings.

Signs You Are Suffering

Lung cancer caught early is often treatable.  Unfortunately, in its early stages, lung cancer typically does not show any symptoms. As the disease progresses, symptoms may appear, including chronic hacking or coughing, repeated respiratory infections, shortness of breath, wheezing, chest pain, hoarseness, fatigue, weakness, weight loss, severe headaches, fever, body pain or difficulty swallowing.

Many of the symptoms are a result of breathing passages that are blocked or due to cancer spreading to other parts of the body.

Contact a Diesel Injury Lawyer

If you believe you are suffering from lung cancer due to diesel exhaust exposures, our team at Diesel Injury Law can fight on your behalf. Contact us today to get started.

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