Railroad Diesel Fumes: Info on Toxic Diseases and Cancers | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

It’s an unfortunate fact, but one that all railroad workers need to be aware of – working around diesel fumes increases your chance of developing terrible diseases and cancer. This includes exposure to formaldeyde since it is a carcinogen and a constituent of diesel fumes. Our FELA firm has represented railroad workers who spent 30 years working in and around a rail yard and wound  up developing life-threatening forms of cancer including mesothelioma.


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Many railroad defense lawyers claim that the prolonged exposure to diesel fumes “does not cause disease or cancer” or they argue that there must be some other contributing factor to the railroad worker’s cancer diagnosis.

But this defense argument is weakened after a study was published by the National Cancer Institute revealed that there is a link between exposure to diesel fumes and to increased lung cancer rates. The study was lengthy and in-depth. It began in 1992 and looked at 12,350 workers in four states.

However, the study focused on miners, not railroad workers.

Nevertheless, the different profession does not dilute the findings that being exposed to diesel fumes, whether in a mine or rail yard, increases your risk of developing lung cancer. Studies have also linked this exposure to bladder cancer.

All of the workers in the study breathed in diesel exhaust fumes on a regular basis. The study indicated that, because of the continuous exposure to these toxic fumes, the workers had higher rates of lung cancer, pneumoconiosis and esophageal cancer when compared to a study group that did not get exposed to toxic diesel exhaust fumes on a regular basis.

A doctor involved in the study stated that the findings of the study “provide further evidence that exposure to diesel exhaust [fumes] increases risk of mortality from lung cancer and have important public health implications”

To get additional information about the risks associated with diesel fume exposure, take a look at this article which was written by an experienced lung cancer FELA attorney in Virginia.

To see an example of how our firm handles these types of diesel exhaust fume lung cancer cases, take a look at this case result.