Vinyl Chloride Cancer Studies
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has determined that vinyl chloride is a known carcinogen. Cancer is a real and serious concern for workers exposed to vinyl chloride orally and through inhalation.
Vinyl chloride exposure has been shown to increase the risk of a rare form of liver cancer called angiosarcoma. Angiosarcoma attacks the lining of blood vessels, and can occur in any area of the body. Studies in workers who inhale vinyl chloride over many years show an increased risk of liver, brain, and lung cancer.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has their own independent concerns, and has classified vinyl chloride as a “Group A human carcinogen.” Exposure to the toxic material is likely to cause reactions that target the liver, brain, and lungs.
VC Exposure Symptoms
Some individuals exposed to high levels of VC at the workplace develop a unique set of symptoms medical experts call “vinyl chloride disease,” where changes in the bones at the end of the fingers cause numbness, joint and muscle pain, and skin changes. Other early signs and symptoms of toxic exposure may include:
• Eye irritation
• Kidney irritation
• Cardiac arrhythmias
• Memory loss
• Peripheral neuropathy
Symptoms of a related cancer will depend on where the cancer originated and if it has spread to other parts of the body. In its early stages, soft tissue sarcomas may not cause any signs and symptoms.
However, as the tumor grows, it may cause noticeable lumps or swelling. Tumors may spread in an irregular pattern near the surface of the skin, or as masses in internal organs. Primary origins of angiosarcoma include the heart, breast, neck, head, liver, spleen, bone, or brain.
Industrial Vinyl Chloride Exposure
One known factor that may increase your risk of developing cancerous sarcomas in the liver includes heavy chemical exposure at certain worksites such as automotive plants and homebuilding sites. Arsenic and vinyl chloride are linked to angiosarcoma cancer, as are certain pesticides and dioxins.
Most of the vinyl chloride produced in the United States is used to make PVC, a material used to manufacture plastic and vinyl products including residential piping, wire and cable coatings, and packaging materials. These products may be intended for commercial or residential use. VC is also used in furniture, automobile upholstery, wall coverings, housewares, and automotive parts.
Workers at homebuilding sites or facilities where vinyl chloride is produced or used may be exposed primarily through inhalation. The highest levels are found in air around factories that produce vinyl products.
The majority of those who fall ill after heavy exposure work in an environment where vinyl chloride is discharged as a gas, mostly from factories that manufacture or process vinyl chloride, automotive production sites, or chemical waste storage. Occupational exposure to VC may also occur during transport, disposal, or handling a finished product, such as on a homebuilding site.
Does Vinyl Chloride Cause Cancer?
Vinyl chloride exposure is associated with an increased risk of a rare form of liver cancer called angiosarcoma, as well as a number of other serious conditions including the following:
• Brain cancer
• Lung cancer
• Oral cancer
• Liver cancer
• Kidney damage
• Blood clotting
• Male infertility
• Birth Defects
Occupational VC Exposure
• Construction workers
• Petrochemical production plant workers
• Tire & Rubber plant workers
• Plastic pipe (PVC) manufacturers
• Toy manufactures
• Furniture and upholstery workers
Brain Cancer Associated with VC Exposure
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has classified vinyl chloride as a “Group A human carcinogen.” Exposure to VC is likely to cause chemical reactions that target the brain, liver, and lungs.
VC exposure is associated with an increased risk of developing glioblastoma brain tumors, as well as a number of other serious conditions.
Workers and Residents Exposed to Vinyl Chloride
The biggest dangers of VC come during the production process. First, the vinyl chloride monomer is produced and shipped to plants that produce a polyvinyl chloride resin. At this stage, VC is polymerized and then fabricated into a myriad of finished products.
If exposed as a result of breathing the chemical’s vapors, the body’s central nervous system may be depressed. Acute exposures may result in lightheadedness and nausea. Severe exposure may cause death.
Chronic exposure may result in liver damage and brain tumor formation. Some cancer cases may take up to 15 years to develop after the initial exposure.
Brain Cancer Clusters
For decades, health officials have known VC to cause cancer. After a high incidence of brain cancer among workers at the Texas Union Carbide Corp. petrochemical plant, a federal health investigation determined VC was the likely suspect.
Around the same time, another cluster of brain cancer cases was discovered at a Monsanto plant, where vinyl chloride was produced. In 2014, residents of McCullom Lake, Illinois, settled a lawsuit in which they claimed exposure to VC from a nearby Dow Chemical plant. A brain cancer cluster of 33 brain tumors was reported.
Some PVC plants around the country still emit vinyl chloride into the air. In 2014, companies reported releasing more than 500,000 pounds of VC into the atmosphere, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
American VC and PVC products
• JM Eagle
• Cresline Plastic Pipe Co.
• Atkore Plastic Pipe
• Pacific Plastic Inc.
• Spears Manufacturing Co.
• North American Pipe Corp.
• Crumpler Plastic Pipe Corp.
• National Pipe & Plastics Inc.
• Dow Chemical Co.
• Monsanto Chemical Co.
• Shell Oil Co.
Toxic Exposure Settlements
Thousands of people in America still work in production sites using vinyl chloride, and thousands of others work with the secondary toxic products in fabrication, flooring, siding, medical equipment, electrical wiring, cables and other products.
In addition, former workers in the homebuilding, automotive and chemical plastics industry are likely to have been exposed to toxins and may have a claim against former manufacturers and employers.
Toxic tort cases in Ohio can be filed against manufacturers of vinyl chloride, or any other employer that subjects employees to unsafe conditions, and results in an injury or illness.
Many corporations around the country know how dangerous this toxic substance is, but choose not to warn or properly protect employees. These companies have been held responsible by attorneys nationwide to compensate victims.