Earlier this year, a Texas couple, Charles and Bessie Mae Stewart, sued BP and several other companies after the husband reportedly contracted a potentially fatal form of cancer allegedly due to benzene exposure. Mr. Stewart was diagnosed with chronic lymphotic leukemia, a type of cancer involving the white blood cells which is generally considered incurable. The lawsuit filed in Galveston County District Court, alleges that 30 years of working around benzene gave Charles Stewart chronic lymphocytic leukemia. In addition to BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Shell, Texaco, and Marathon are named as Defendants in the lawsuit. It’s alleged in the lawsuit that the Defendants knew about the dangers associated with exposure to benzene and failed to warn him that he was working in close proximity to the hazardous solvents and chemicals without any precautions to reduce the risk of exposure.
Also, in August of this year, another lawsuit was filed by a retired railroad worker, Richard Czuprynski, who developed a deadly form of cancer after 30 years of alleged exposure to Benzene and other cancer-causing chemicals. The lawsuit, filed in Jefferson County (Texas) District Court, accuses Kansas City Southern Railway Co. of negligently exposing Czuprynski to toxic materials during his time as an engineer, conductor, and brakeman with the company from 1976 until March 2009.
Benzene is a chemical which has been used as a gasoline additive, an industrial solvent and during the production of various drugs, plastics, synthetic rubber and dyes. Benzene is a toxic substance. In 1996 it was classified as a Class A carcinogen by the Environmental Protection Agency, and has been linked to cancer and other serious health problems. The International Agency for Research on Cancer and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration have also determined that benzene has been linked to the development of blood cancers and blood disorders several years after exposure. There is a latency period associated with the effects of benzene that can take anywhere from seven-15 years.
On occasion benzene-related diseases can develop as late as 40 years after exposure. People typically diagnosed with benzene-related cancers were exposed to benzene through occupational use, in work environments such as chemical plants, refineries, steel mills, mechanic shops, and other industrial settings. Workers exposed to high levels of benzene are at the greatest risk of suffering its long-term harmful effects including acute myelogenous leukemia, acute lymphocytic leukemia, anemia and other forms of cancer and leukemia. Acute myelogenous leukemia, also known as acute myeloid leukemia, is the most serious of the benzene related leukemias.
Source: Southeast Texas Record
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