Diesel Injury Law


Diesel exhaust (a known carcinogen) is often the tip of the iceberg when it comes to dangerous exposures suffered by mechanics working on diesel-powered equipment in shops and out in the field. Between the improperly ventilated shops, inadequate training, unsafe practices and employers general disregard for personal protective equipment, mechanics across many fields suffer daily exposures to toxins. These toxins include various chemicals, fuels and fumes. Toxins are inhaled, absorbed through the skin and eyes, and even digested. While these exposures often cause short term symptoms like congestion, dry eyes and chest tightness, over time those same exposures can lead to more serious conditions including cancer and leukemia.

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    Diesel Injury Law focuses on the entire spectrum of exposures when we agree to take on your case. Our analysis does not start and end with diesel exhaust. We’ve found that career diesel mechanics typically worked with a whole host of carcinogens and so we bring all those exposures to bear when determining, with the help of experts, whether your illness is work-related. Below we’ve listed just a few of the exposures that we often take into account.

    Mechanics – Solvents

    Mechanics are exposed to harmful solvents, such as benzene, trichloroethylene and various fuels on a daily basis. Benzene was a fixture in solvents, coolants, lubricants, thinners and degreasers back in the 1970’s and it is still found in products today.

    How many of you worked with products like Safety-Kleen, Champion Carb/Brake Cleaner, Naptha, Gumout, and Liquid Wrench?

    All of those contained benzene at one time. Benzene causes leukemia, myelodysplastic syndrome and lymphoma. It can also cause neuropathy and anemia.

    Trichloroethylene (TCE), another common degreaser used by mechanics, causes kidney cancer, Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, Multiple Myeloma and Parkinson’s. TCE can also be found in paint removers and paint strippers. TCE is still commonly used today and it is currently the subject of updates to the Toxic Substances Controls Act.

    The various cancers and health effects of diesel exhaust can be found throughout this website, but they include lung, bladder, and kidney cancers and various blood and bone marrow disorders like Acute Myeloid Leukemia.

    Mechanics and Asbestos Exposure

    Mechanics and Asbestos ExposureLong term mechanics, or those working on older vehicles, were likely exposed to asbestos and are thus at increased risk for developing asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma and lung cancer. Vehicles manufactured before 1980 often had asbestos-containing brakes, clutches and gaskets. Many mechanics have been exposed to asbestos at repair shops, service stations, car dealerships, garages, and other confined work spaces.

    Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral fiber that can cause serious health problems when inhaled. Asbestos fibers are microscopic and cannot be detected by the human eye. When products containing asbestos are disturbed, asbestos fibers become airborne and spread through the air. Workers breathing the air easily and unknowingly inhale the fibers. The inhalation of asbestos fibers causes mesothelioma, asbestosis, and lung cancer. It can take 10 to 40 years or more for symptoms to appear after exposure to asbestos. Common symptoms of mesothelioma include abdominal or chest pain, painful coughing, shortness of breath, lumps in the chest or abdomen area, and unexplained weight loss.

    Other Exposures

    Other ExposuresAuto mechanics are often exposed to lead dust and fumes while welding, working on radiators, handling batteries, painting car parts, and using lubricants. Exposure to these toxins may cause lead poisoning, which can result in damage to the neurological system. Welding fumes are another concern. Manganese exposures via welding can also cause neurological impairments.

    Silica from sandblasting operations can cause Silicosis which makes individuals more susceptible to lung cancer and COPD. Mechanics working in shops where painting and auto body work is being performed will also suffer exposures to paints, fillers and additional solvents. These products pose an entire host of health implications.

    For example, hexavalent chromium exposures occur during welding on stainless steel, through the use of pigments, spray paints and coatings and via operation of chrome coating baths. Hexavalent chromium compounds are carcinogenic to mechanics. Associated cancers include lung, nasal and sinus cancers. Hexavalent chromium is truly nasty stuff and unfortunately, the many hazards of working with it aren’t always recognized.

    If you or a loved spent your career working as a mechanic and endured exposures like those outlined above, and you have received a medical diagnosis that you suspect may be related to your workplace, contact Diesel Injury Law today. We will consult with our experts and if a link can be made, we will seek compensation on your behalf.

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    Hughes Law Offices is providing case histories to inform visitors about actual case fact patterns and rulings.
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    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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