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Shapiro & Appleton

Info on Lung Cancer in Railroad Workers

Thousands of rail workers who work for Norfolk Southern, CSX, Amtrak, Conrail and other railroad companies are exposed to chemicals and fumes that may increase their risk of developing lung cancer in the future. For example, many rail workers are exposed to diesel exhaust or diesel fumes while working around idling locomotives and the fumes from engines involved in switching operations. Another example are rail workers on the road who are exposed to exhaust fumes while riding on poorly ventilated locomotives, or when diesel exhaust fumes enter the cab through a defect in the locomotive.

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Breathing in these toxic fumes can contribute to a rail worker developing life-threatening forms of lung cancer. We have firsthand experience representing rail workers who devoted their lives to working for a railroad, then struggled with lung cancer in what was supposed to be the golden years of their retirement. For example, we represented a railroad conductor who worked for a major railroad for over 30 years and suffered lung disease, including diesel fume asthma, as a result of prolonged exposure to diesel fumes. He developed these horrible health conditions while riding in railroad locomotive engines that allowed diesel fumes to get into the engine cab area. We knew our client was an innocent victim who had his life adversely effected because of the railroad's complete disregard for their employee's health and safety. Fortunately, we reached a settlement that pleased our rail client. Currently, our firm is handling leukemias developed after long term exposure to diesel exhaust and other toxins, as well as multiple myeloma, a terrible disease that occurs more often in workers exposed to petroleum vapors or fumes, including diesel exhaust fumes.

It's not just our experience representing rail workers which shows the link between rail workers' exposure to various fumes and an increased risk of lung cancer. A study published in 2010 showed that long-term exposure to railroad locomotive diesel fume exhaust increases the chances of lung cancer. The study revealed that a rail worker who has years of on-the-job exposure to diesel fumes increases their risk of lung cancer by 317 percent.


The results of the 2010 study mentioned above support the existing evidence that diesel fume exhaust exposure, whether you're a carman, shop worker, engineer, switchman, or any other rail worker who breaths in toxic diesel fumes leads to lung problems such as cancer, COPD and asthma. The American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine even found that rail workers, regardless of whether they smoked or not, suffered an increased risk of developing lung cancer due to their exposure to various toxic fumes. 



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Richard N. Shapiro
Personal Injury & Wrongful Death Lawyer Serving Va Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake & all of Virginia
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