More than 70 years ago, an American Petroleum Institute study warned that there is no “safe” level of occupational benzene exposure. The same has been said of asbestos exposure. Yet even today many employers endanger the health of employees by exposing them to toxins like Benzene.
Benzene is a particularly dangerous chemical because it can take years from initial exposure until exposed oil refinery workers develop related symptoms of various cancers like Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS) and Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML). Asbestos, on the other hand, has been linked to several other fatal cancers.
It is well known that Benzene vapors are easily inhaled and absorbed through the skin, potentially leading to cancers of the blood like leukemia and lymphoma. Heavy exposure to toxins multiplies the risk of cancer, so Marathon Refinery Workers nationwide who have worked for many years are at great risk of Benzene-related illnesses. If you have worked at Marathon and have fallen ill as a result of chronic asbestos or Benzene exposure, you may have a claim against your employer.
Joe Lyon is a highly-rated Personal Injury Lawyer who has represented individuals nationwide in toxic tort claims. If you have been exposed to Benzene or asbestos at the workplace, and have questions about your legal rights, please contact The Lyon Firm.
Marathon Refinery Workers Exposed
According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), as many as 238,000 people in the United States may be occupationally exposed to Benzene. Many of these employees may not be aware that they are regularly inhaling toxic chemicals like Asbestos and Benzene, and the majority of workers are also unaware of the serious health risks that accompany exposure.
Marathon Petroleum workers are most regularly exposed to harmful levels of Benzene during the normal refining process and maintenance, but they face even further risks in the event of Benzene spills, chemical cleanups, pipe or valve leaks, pipe explosions, and line ruptures.
Even though Asbestos and Benzene exposure is less common than it once was, exposure cancer cases are on the rise. Many heavy industries, including oil refineries like the Gramercy, LA and the Marathon Canton Refinery, have used Benzene and other chemicals at work sites in vast amounts. Workers may be exposed by airborne particles, or through direct skin contact, which can enter the blood quite readily.
The Dangers of Benzene Exposure
Benzene exposure has a number of serious health effects. Breathing high levels of Benzene can result in certain cancers like Acute Myeloid Leukemia. Asbestos can cause several cancers, including mesothelioma. Low level exposure is not initially as dangerous, which may cause drowsiness, dizziness, rapid heart rate, headaches, tremors, confusion, and unconsciousness, though low-level occupational exposure for very long periods of time raises individual cancer risk significantly.
The most concerning health effect of Benzene from chronic exposure is damage to the blood. Benzene may damage the bone marrow and could cause a decrease in red blood cells, leading to anemia.
It can also cause excessive bleeding and depress the immune system, increasing the chance of infection. Some women who have breathed high levels of benzene for many months in occupational settings have had a reported decrease in the size of their ovaries. It is currently unknown, but suspected, whether benzene exposure affects a developing fetus in pregnant women or long-term fertility in men.
Medical Studies Determine Benzene Causes Cancer
Clinical evidence consistently indicates that acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) can be caused by Benzene exposure. In addition, cancers such as lymphomas (solid tumors) multiple myelomas (cancers of the plasma cells) may also be linked to long-term Benzene exposure.
Many former workers of oil refineries, including Canton, Ohio’s Marathon Refinery, suffering from AML and Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (NHL), have filed lawsuits against their employers, claiming the cancer is related to occupational Benzene exposures.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services classifies benzene as a human carcinogen. They say long-term exposure to high levels of Benzene in the air is known to cause acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Other cancers may also be Benzene-related, including:
- Acute myeloid leukemia (AML)
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Multiple myeloma (MM)
- Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS)
Benzene Exposure Lawsuits
There is a wealth of health information and several damaging medical studies that suggest Benzene is a dangerous toxin, and employee exposure must be minimized to ensure the safety of all workers. However, employers like the Marathon Petroleum Company, which operates the Gramercy and Canton Refinery, have not yet lived up to their responsibility and properly warned and protected all workers.
Thousands of workers–auto mechanics, printers, barge workers, gas station attendants, petroleum truckers–across the nation have faced Benzene or Asbestos exposure and are now at risk of developing deadly diseases like Mesothelioma, Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) and Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS).