Diesel Injury Law

Railroad Workers and Chronic
Lymphocytic Leukemia

Many railroad workers are at an elevated risk of developing Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL). Why is that? It is because railroad workers are regularly exposed to benzene, butadiene, and pesticides.

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    Benzene and butadiene are tied to an increased risk of CLL as well as other leukemias and cancers. Both of these chemicals are classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as a group one carcinogens. Examples of other group one carcinogens include asbestos, plutonium, and tobacco. Railroad workers are exposed to benzene and butadiene simultaneously by way of diesel exhaust. It is beyond dispute that day in and day out, railroad workers endure some of the worst diesel exposures of any occupation. Benzene and butadiene are just two of the many carcinogens that can be found in diesel exhaust. In addition to CLL, diesel exhaust exposure has been tied to a variety of other cancers such as lung cancer.

    Unfortunately, railroad workers are exposed to benzene in more ways than one. For example, benzene was historically found in many of the solvents, degreasers, thinners, parts cleaners, mineral spirits, lubricants, fuels, and paints that were relied upon by railroad shop workers. Some common products that once contained benzene include Liquid Wrench, Gumout, Champion Brake Cleaner, Ortho Weed-B-Gone and SafetyKleen.

    Chronic exposure to pesticides has also been tied to an increased risk of CLL. Railroads use pesticides extensively on mainline tracks, at rail crossings, and inside their rail yards to control vegetation. Many railroad workers, in turn, have endured long-term exposures to those herbicides while working on the ground as brakemen, conductors, car men, and members of the track department. Besides CLL, pesticide exposure has also been known to contribute to many other disorders and illnesses in humans, including various cancers such as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Some pesticides – including 2,4-D and paraquat – have also been linked with an increased risk of Parkinson’s disease.


    What is Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia?

    Of the four main types of leukemia, CLL is the most common type in adults. Leukemia refers to cancers that originate in blood-forming tissue such as bone marrow and the lymphatic system. When leukemia develops in blood-forming tissue, it begins to produce abnormal blood cells.

    So what is “lymphocytic” leukemia? Leukemias are classified by the type of blood cell that they affect. There are three main types of blood cells: red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. CLL is a “lymphocytic” leukemia because it affects lymphocytes – a group of white blood cells that help your body fight infections. Because leukemia affects lymphocytes, some doctors also consider CLL to be a sub-type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

    Why is CLL “chronic?” Leukemias are also classified by the rate at which they progress. CLL is a “chronic” leukemia because it develops at a slower rate compared to other leukemias such as acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Because chronic leukemias typically grow slowly, it may take a long time before a patient needs treatment. However, this is not always the case. There are two types of CLL: Ig-mutated CLL and Ig-unmutated CLL. Lg-unmutated CLL grows much faster and it is considered a more serious disease.

    Railroad Worker Diagnosed with Leukemia? Contact Hughes Law Offices

    At Hughes Law Offices, our team of railroad cancer lawyers take a full survey of the workplace in determining which toxins, including solvents and degreasers, asbestos, diesel exhaust, creosote, welding fumes, silica sand, benzene, herbicides, and secondhand smoke contributed to causing our client’s illness. If you suspect that your illness or that of a loved one could be related to workplace exposures, contact Hughes Law Offices today for a free attorney consultation. Call 312-877-5588.


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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.
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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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