BENZENE AND LEUKEMIA
Benzene and leukemia have been connected in various scientific studies. "Many occupational and environmental exposures have been implicated in the etiology of leukemia, but only a few, such as benzene, are well-established leukemogens. " Guenel, Leukemia in relation to occupational exposures to benzene and other agents: a case-control study nested in a cohort of gas and electric utility workers. Am J Ind Med 2002 Aug;42(2):87-97. That study found, "The risk of leukemia was increased in workers with an estimated cumulative exposure to benzene > or = 16.8 ppm-years and there was an indication of a dose-response relation (OR = 1.2; 95% CI 1.0-1.5 per 10 ppm-years increase in exposure). The link with benzene was more pronounced for acute leukemia than for chronic leukemia."
How does one know that an exposure caused a disease. One possibility is a marker which provides some information about the disease process. "Numerous studies have associated exposure to benzene with increased levels of chromosome aberrations in circulating lymphocytes of exposed workers. The recently developed fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) and polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based technologies have allowed the detection of specific chromosome aberrations. Smith, Biomarkers of leukemia risk: benzene as a model, Environ Health Perspect 1998 Aug;106 Suppl 4:937-46 There is no consensus yet about identifying causation based upon chromosome characteristics.
Claims Worker's Compensation
If the exposure occured at work, there is a potential worker's compensation claim. The plaintiff would need to establish that his workplace exposure played a substantial role in the developement of the disease.
Product Liability and Third Party Claims
A claim may be presented against the manufacturer of the benzene for failure to provide proper warning labels, cautions, and disclosures.
Howard Gutman is a New Jersey attorney based in Parsippany, New Jersey who has handled numerous legal claims involving pulmonary tumors. A member of the board of directors of a leading cancer support group, he is the author of the book, te Guide Lung Cancer and Mesothelioma. He has appeared on Good Day New York, spoken at the National Press Club and been interviewed by NBC Nightly News.
Cases are handled on a contingency basis with no legal fee charged unless the case is successful.
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