Causes of Lung Cancer in the Workplace
Most cases of lung cancer are caused by smoking, although people who have never smoked can also develop the condition. Unfortunately, occupational exposure as a cause of lung cancer is also still common. Specifically, exposure to certain chemicals and substances that are used in several occupations and industries has been linked to a slightly higher risk of developing lung cancer.
The occupational substances associated with an increased risk of lung cancer include metals (i.e. arsenic, aluminum, beryllium, cadmium, chromium, and nickel), natural fibers (i.e. asbestos, silica and wood dust), reactive chemicals (i.e. ether, mustard gas, and vinyl chloride), and solvents (i.e. benzene and toluene). Research also suggests that being exposed to large amounts of diesel fumes for many years may increase your risk of developing lung cancer by up to 50%.
In addition, ionizing radiation is a term for the high-energy emissions that are released by radioactive materials. It can come from natural sources such as radon gas, or can be produced artificially to be used in medicine (i.e. X-ray machines) and in industry (i.e. for measurement and producing electricity). Employees in the nuclear industry, workers who x-ray pipes and workers in the medical and dental professions may work with sources of radiation. Exposure to high levels of this type of radiation can cause cancers, especially leukemias. Non-ionizing radiation, from sunlight, power lines, electrical equipment and mobile phones, has much less energy than radiation from X-ray machines or radon.
WHO’S AT RISK?
People who work in certain jobs, especially in the manufacturing industry, may have higher risks of cancer because of exposures to some chemicals, radiation, or other aspects of their work. Employers are required to provide Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) for each chemical you may be exposed to at work. If these have not been provided for you, or if you feel your workplace is placing you at risk, you can contact The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which has a 24-hour access line to report unsafe work practices. Because cancer can take many years, to develop, some people may have an increased risk of cancer because they used to work with cancer-causing substances before regulations were initiated.
Madeksho Law Firm, PLLC has been handling cases on behalf of lung disease victims for over 40 years. If you or your loved one has been exposed to occupational substances that are known to increase the risk of lung cancer, you may be entitled to compensation.