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Are You at Risk for Benzene Exposure?

Benzene is a colorless flammable liquid used in manufacturing processes and created by fires, cigarette smoke, and other forms of combustion. Exposure to this substance can cause health problems in humans, including certain types of cancer. Benzene is categorized as a carcinogen, or cancer-causing agent, by the Environmental Protection Agency. While all individuals are exposed to low levels of environmental benzene, certain people may come in contact with dangerous levels. Understanding the risk factors for benzene exposure can allow individuals to decrease or eliminate those risks.

Occupational Exposure

Large grassy field with machinery off to the side

Those who work in industries that rely on benzene are at the highest risk for exposure, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Example industries include but are not limited to benzene production, industrial steel, medical and chemical laboratories, gas stations, printing, and rubber tire manufacture. The CDC estimates that at least 238,000 Americans fall into this risk category. This risk is especially prevalent among older Americans who worked in these industries before stricter regulations for workplace exposure were introduced in recent decades.

Urban Exposure

Individuals who reside in urban and heavily developed industrial areas are more susceptible to benzene exposure than those who live in rural or suburban settings. The presence of nearby gas stations, highways with heavy traffic, petroleum refineries, petrochemical plants, and hazardous waste sites also increases risk. Because the amount of benzene in gasoline has been limited by federal and state regulations in the 1980s and beyond, these risks are higher for older adults.

Smoking

The CDC notes that those who smoke cigarettes have about 10 times the daily benzene intake of nonsmokers. The agency estimates that about half of U.S. benzene exposure can be attributed to cigarette smoke.

Chemical Exposure

Using chemical products containing benzene in an enclosed space or unventilated area could raise the risk for benzene-related health problems. Examples include certain art supplies, solvents, glues, paints, and other fume-releasing substances.

Individuals who develop health problems after occupational benzene exposure could be eligible for legal damages. According to the American Cancer Society, this substance is linked to the development of leukemia and other blood disorders. Contact D’Amico Law Offices, LLC for a consultation in the Pittsburgh area with our experienced attorneys.

A Brief History of Asbestos

Many Americans know asbestos as a toxic substance that can cause life-threatening illnesses. However, it once was considered an efficient and safe material for construction projects. Here’s a brief history of the material.

The Discovery of Asbestos

Close up of a woman wearing a surgical mask

Although asbestos was used by ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and even craftsmen in the Stone Age, it wasn’t until 1858 that asbestos was commonly used in the United States. It became common when The Johns Company began mining it for use in the United States and Canada during the Industrial Revolution. Because asbestos is resistant to chemicals, heat, water, and electricity, it was commonly used as an insulator during many industrial processes. However, it soon became apparent that asbestos was causing widespread health concerns.

Rising Health Concerns

In 1918, the U.S. government recognized the health risk after reports of early death in asbestos workers became common. In 1930, a doctor named E.R.A. Merewether conducted a clinical examination of hundreds of asbestos workers, finding that one in four was afflicted by a condition called asbestosis. He also concluded that not only workers but also those exposed to asbestos products may be at risk, as there is no safe amount of asbestos exposure.

Connection with Cancer

Many asbestos workers began developing lung cancer as the years went on. In 1949, Dr. Wilhelm Heuper, a physician and contributor to the National Cancer Institute, warned the general population of the connection between asbestos and cancer risk. This was after the first report of a mesothelioma-like tumor in 1943. Mesothelioma, a condition characterized by a tumor that can either be malignant (cancerous) or benign (noncancerous), was linked to asbestos in studies conducted between the 1950s and ’60s. However, the asbestos industry continued to sell and install asbestos without warning workers well into the 1960s.

Seeking Compensation

After the tragedy of long-term exposure to a toxic material, those affected by the asbestos industry soon began receiving compensation. In 1967, a UK citizen was the first to file a successful personal injury claim due to mesothelioma, which was upheld by an appeals court in 1971. In the same year, a federal court issued a verdict of $68,000 for victims which was also upheld by an appeals court. Currently, nearly 3,000 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma every year, according to the CDC. Many of these victims are still eligible for compensation.

Mesothelioma is a devastating condition that many could have avoided. Unfortunately, unethical practices by the asbestos industry had adverse effects on its workers. If you are the victim of illness due to asbestos exposure, or any other personal injury, contact D’Amico Law Offices, LLC today at 412-906-8180 to determine if you are eligible for compensation.

Take These Five Steps Immediately After a Car Crash

Silver sedan that has damage on its back driver side

Even after a minor car crash, drivers might feel dazed, shaken, or even in shock. However, taking the right measures to document the incident and seek medical attention is essential even in these hectic moments. These are the critical steps to take immediately when an auto accident occurs.

Check for Injuries

As soon as it’s safe to do so, drivers should pull over to a safe location and check themselves for injuries. Those who can safely exit the vehicle can also confirm whether other drivers involved in the incident have been injured.

Call the Authorities

Next, the driver should dial 911. If necessary, the dispatcher will send an ambulance to the scene. Even when no one is injured, police should be called to document the incident and release an official report. In Pennsylvania, drivers are legally required to report an accident to the police when injury or major damage is involved. However, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation requires all accidents be reported within five days—even minor accidents.

Exchange Information

Each driver should provide his or her contact and insurance policy information to the other drivers. This information will be required to report the car accident to the appropriate auto insurance companies. Drivers should avoid discussing injuries, fault, or the extent of damage with witnesses or other involved drivers at the scene, though everyone should still be polite and cordial.

Document the Scene

The driver should take photographs of the damage to his or her car, the surrounding property, and the entirety of the accident scene. He or she should also gather contact information from bystanders who saw the crash and are willing to serve as witnesses.

File a Claim

The accident should be reported to the driver’s insurance company as soon as possible. The report should include all pertinent details, such as the police or DMV report, a personal account of the incident, photos of the scene, and contact information for eyewitnesses.

If you’ve been injured in an accident, you need a personal injury attorney to help you with your case. D’Amico Law Offices, LLC is a law firm consisting of experienced auto accident attorneys that represent Pittsburgh drivers. Contact us online or call 412-906-8180 to schedule a consultation.

What Is Talcum Powder?

bottle of johnson's baby powder sitting on a wooden surface

Talc is a mineral clay that can be found across the globe. It’s used in a wide range of industries, from paper manufacturing and pharmaceuticals to food and beauty. Talcum powder, also known as baby powder, is talc in powdered form and has been used for cosmetic purposes for decades. Recent concerns about the link between talcum powder and cancer have resulted in a number of successful lawsuits against manufacturers who sell products that contain it.

A Brief History

Talc is the softest mineral on Earth and has been used in a variety of cosmetics for over a century. In the early 1900s, Johnson & Johnson began marketing a baby powder made of talc, with mothers as their target demographic. It absorbs moisture well, cuts down on friction, and is very effective at preventing diaper rash. Talcum powder was also commonly used for feminine hygiene and was applied to surgical gloves and condoms.

Concerns About Talc

In the 1970s, researchers began sounding the alarm about the link between talcum powder and cancer. There was a concern regarding cross-contamination with talc and asbestos because when talc is mined, veins of asbestos often occur within talc deposits. Asbestos has been linked to harmful conditions, including mesothelioma, for decades. The use of talcum powder around the female genital area has also possibly been linked to ovarian and cervical cancer.

Legal Action

In 2016, juries awarded more than $120 million in damages to plaintiffs who sued Johnson & Johnson after developing cancers linked to talcum powder use. In July 2018, Johnson & Johnson paid out $4.7 billion in damages to 22 women who claimed that their ovarian cancer was caused by the company’s baby powder. As of 2019, the company faces ongoing litigation involving nearly 12,000 talcum powder claims.

The experienced attorneys at D’Amico Law Offices, LLC believe in holding manufacturers accountable for exposing people to dangerous products. If you or a loved one is in the Pittsburgh area and has been diagnosed with ovarian cancer that may have been caused by talcum powder, we can investigate and assess the strength of your claim to help you determine if legal action is warranted. Schedule a consultation with our team today by contacting us at 412-906-8180.