Benzene Exposure: Acute Myelogenous Leukemia
Benzene is a clear, "sweet" smelling liquid chemical that has dangerous and deadly effects on those exposed to it for long periods of time — or even short periods of time at high concentrations. As noted below, benzene is classified as a Class A carcinogen by the Environmental Protection Agency.
The major problem with benzene derives from its use in a wide range of man-made products, including solvents, detergents, plastics, synthetic fibers, dyes, rubber, resins, paint, and many other items. It is commonly found in the petroleum industry, where workers who inhale vapors of petroleum-based solvents run an elevated risk of developing acute myelogenous leukemia (AML leukemia). Some of these high risk group occupations have been identified as (1) chemical workers, (2) refinery workers, (3) rubber workers, (4) printing industry workers, (5) leather workers, (6) press workers, (7) painters, and (8) gasoline distributors.
Benzene is known to be responsible for a number of health disorders, and is linked to Acute myeloid leukemia (AML), also known as acute myelogenous leukemia.
AML is a cancer of the myeloid line of blood cells, characterized by the rapid growth of abnormal white blood cells that accumulate in the bone marrow and interfere with the production of normal blood cells. AML is the most common acute leukemia affecting adults, and its incidence increases with age. Although AML is a relatively rare disease, accounting for approximately 1.2% of cancer deaths in the United States, its incidence is expected to increase as the population ages.
The symptoms of AML are caused by replacement of normal bone marrow with leukemic cells, which causes a drop in red blood cells, platelets, and normal white blood cells. These symptoms include fatigue, shortness of breath, easy bruising and bleeding, and increased risk of infection. Several risk factors and chromosomal abnormalities have been identified, but the specific cause is not clear. As an acute leukemia, AML progresses rapidly and is typically fatal within weeks or months if left untreated.
AML has several subtypes; treatment and prognosis varies among subtypes. Five-year survival varies from 15–70%, and relapse rate varies from 33-78%, depending on subtype. AML is treated initially with chemotherapy aimed at inducing a remission; patients may go on to receive additional chemotherapy or a hematopoietic stem cell transplant. Recent research into the genetics of AML has resulted in the availability of tests that can predict which drug or drugs may work best for a particular patient, as well as how long that patient is likely to survive.
Occupational chemical exposure to benzene and other aromatic organic solvents is considered to be a cause of AML. Benzene and many of its derivatives are known to be carcinogenic in vitro.
If you are or a family member has been affected by AML, we urge you to contact the law office of Audet & Partners, LLP as soon as possible to protect your legal rights. You may call us, toll free, at 800.965.1461, or you may fill out the simple and confidential form on the right hand side of this page. Please act now, as the time in which you can seek legal redress for damages can vary.
Persons seeking to preserve any potential legal claims should contact an attorney promptly, since all states have mandatory time periods in which lawsuits must be filed with the courts; otherwise, they may be forever barred.
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