Diesel Exhaust-related Deaths
Cancer. Obstructive lung disease. Optic nerve damage. These are just a few of the side effects an individual can endure when working in, around or with diesel engine exhaust. Individuals are not the only ones adversely affected if they work with diesel exhaust on a continual basis, those who are exposed a occasionally are still at risk. For example, studies have been conducted to determine the harmful effects of diesel exhaust on individuals working in the railroad industry, but little is understood about the true effects. What is known is that the two main chemical diseases associated with diesel exhaust exposure include cancer and obstructive lung disorder. However, the list does not stop there.
Diesel Exhaust and Obstructive Lung Disease
A recent study determined that between 40% and 50% of train service workers suffer from the effects of obstructive lung disease as a result of their chronic, unprotected exposure to diesel exhaust. Railroaders who work in the shop crafts, as well as the maintenance of way and signal departments, have also suffered the effects of chemical disease when exposed to diesel exhaust in the workplace.
The effect of obstructive lung disease is shortness of breath. Obstructive lung disease occurs when diesel soot is deposited into the lungs after inhalation. Diesel exhaust’s ultra-fine particles lodge in the lungs where the particles cannot be easily removed by the lung itself (mucociliary escalator). Eventually, these fine particles clog the lumen in the lungs and gradually the lungs lose their elasticity and become less and less able to expand and contract with each breath. Each day of exposure to diesel exhaust results in accumulation of the particles that restrict breathing.
Diesel asthma is another side effect commonly associated with obstructive lung disease. Similar to allergy symptoms, diesel asthma is commonly mistakenly diagnosed. Sufferers of diesel asthma notice that once exposed to diesel exhaust there is a sudden shortness of breath or quick on-set hypersensitivity to diesel exhaust, both of which occur without warning. This reaction to diesel exhaust becomes increasingly severe and persists long after exposure has ceased. It has been discovered that with time nearly 50 percent of the lung’s capacity can be lost because of obstructive lung disease.
Compared to chronic, unprotected, diesel exhaust exposure, cigarette smoke is innocuous. Further, modern diagnostics are capable of distinguishing between the lung damage cause by diesel exhaust as opposed to cigarette smoke.
Diesel Exhaust Exposure and Cancer
There is medical evidence that exposure to diesel exhaust causes cancer in humans. Medical studies of workers chronically exposed to diesel exhaust show that diesel exhaust causes cancer of the lung, urinary tract, bladder, stomach, prostate, mouth, larynx, esophagus, and colon. Further, the type of cancer caused by diesel exhaust typically metastasizes–the cancer spreads to other locations in the body.
Lastly, medical professionals have recently made a connection between diesel exhaust and diesel encephalopathy. A recent study of workers tied diesel exhaust exposure to memory deficits, sensory losses, equilibrium imbalances and mood swings. Diesel encephalopathy is a relatively new discovery, but some claim it can be detected.
If you have been exposed to diesel exhaust and have suffered injury, you may have a legal case.
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