john tomlinson Benzene exposure increases worker risk for cancer including AMLMichael Krengloskie was a fireman and oiler/carman for more than three decades at the Oakland yard in California, according to the Northern California Record. Kenneth L. Kump was an electrician who worked for Consolidated Rail (Conrail) Corporation and Norfolk Southern Railway Company for 40 years, the Penn Record reports.

These men worked in the same industry and now share a similar story – they say developed cancer linked to benzene exposure at their workplaces. The men have filed lawsuits against their previous employers alleging that despite the companies’ knowledge of the chemical’s dangers, they failed to adequately protect them for years.

The National Center for Biotechnology Information explains that benzene has been a known carcinogen since it was deemed so by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in 1982. Yet many employers failed to heed the warning or employ the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommendation to use personal protective equipment for workers frequently exposed to benzene.

As Beasley Allen previously explained, frequent or prolonged exposure increases a person’s risk of developing certain types of cancer including Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML). The American Cancer Society confirms this through studies showing higher rates of AML occur in “workers exposed to high levels of benzene.” Railroad workers, automobile mechanics and petroleum refining and extraction workers are just a few occupations that have a high risk of benzene exposure.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) describes benzene as a chemical carcinogen with a sweet odor. It is found in natural gas, petroleum products, plastics, lubricants, detergents, rubber products, paint and even in some food and beverages. It can be inhaled as well as absorbed through the eyes and skin.

The cancer begins as Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS), which is a group of bone marrow disorders. Roughly 30 percent of the patients diagnosed with MDS progress to AML. It occurs when bone marrow cells are transformed into abnormal myleoblasts (a type of white blood cell), red blood cells or platelets. They multiply into billons of other abnormal cells and block the production of normal cells.

In the early stages of MDS, symptoms may not immediately manifest, but blood tests may reveal a reduced red cell count, sometimes with a reduced white cell count and/or reduced platelet counts. Symptoms of adult AML include fever, feeling tired and easy bruising or bleeding. A blood test on the blood and bone marrow must be used to diagnose AML.

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If you would like more information about benzene exposure and benzene-related cancers such as Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML), you can contact John Tomlinson, a lawyer in our Toxic Torts Section. You can reach him at 800-898-2034 or by email You can also find more information at

Northern California Record
Penn Record reports
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Beasley Allen
American Cancer Society
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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