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Workplace Diseases Kansas City Employment Lawyer
Workplace Diseases

Workplace Diseases

Many diseases may emanate from exposure to a dangerous substance or material while on the job. These diseases often arise from substances physically present in the affected individual's workplace. The onset of a disease may result in protection afforded under tort law theories, as more full discussed below.

Mesothelioma Disease:

The lung disease known as Mesothelioma has been linked repeatedly to workplace exposure to asbestos. The following discussion highlights the issues surrounding Mesothelioma.

Malignant mesothelioma starts when cells found in the mesothelium, a protective lining that covers most of the body's internal organs, become abnormal and divide without control or order. These cancerous cells may then metastasize (spread) to other parts of the body, damaging tissues and organs.

Malignant mesothelioma may present itself in many forms. Common forms include: (1) peritoneal mesothelioma (cancer of the abdominal lining); (2) pleural mesothelioma (cancer of the lung lining); and (3) pericardial mesothelioma (cancer of the heart lining). The form of malignant mesothelioma someone has is an important factor in evaluating both treatment options and symptoms of the disease.

Symptoms of Mesothelioma

Symptoms of mesothelioma are usually nonspecific and may not appear until 10 to 40 years after someone is exposed to asbestos. When symptoms do finally appear, they may include shortness of breath and pain in the chest due to an accumulation of fluid in the membrane that surrounds the lungs and lines the wall of the chest cavity. In addition, symptoms may include weight loss, and abdominal pain and swelling due to a buildup of fluid in the abdomen. And in some cases, symptoms may even include bowel obstruction, blood clotting abnormalities, fever, night sweats and anemia.

Because the symptoms caused by mesothelioma are similar to many other less serious health problems, it is important to see a doctor for a correct diagnosis.

Risk Factors Associated with Mesothelioma

Although mesothelioma is a relatively rare cancer, reported incidence rates have increased in the past 20 years. Almost all people who develop mesothelioma have worked on jobs where they inhaled asbestos particles. In fact, a history of asbestos exposure at work is reported in about 70 - 80% of all cases. Usually, the risk of mesothelioma will increase with heavier exposure to asbestos and longer exposure. However, some individuals with only brief exposures have developed mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma also occurs more often in men than in women, and risk increases with age. Yet, mesothelioma may appear in either men or women at any age.

There is also some evidence that family members and others living with asbestos workers also have an increased risk of developing mesothelioma. This risk may be the result of exposure to asbestos dust brought home on the clothing and hair of someone who worked with asbestos. Lastly, while smoking does not appear to increase the risk of mesothelioma, the combination of smoking and asbestos exposure significantly increases a person's risk of developing the disease.

If you or a family member/friend has contracted Mesothelioma, please contact our law firm now to obtain a thorough legal evaluation of your claim and to learn more about our firm and the ways in which we have helped people with similar injuries

Benzene Exposure:

Benzene is a known carcinogen that is derived from coal and petroleum products and is found in gasoline and other fuels. Benzene is used in the manufacturing of plastics, detergents, pesticides and other chemicals. Benzene is also used in the production of some types of rubber, lubricants, dyes and drugs. It is a natural part of crude oil and gasoline. Benzene is widely used in the United States and ranks in the top 20 chemicals for production volume.

Benzene is a colorless liquid with a sweet odor. Breathing high levels of Benzene can cause drowsiness, dizziness, rapid heart rate, headaches, tremors, confusion, and unconsciousness. Breathing very high levels can result in death. Long term exposure to benzene causes harmful effects on bone marrow and can cause a decrease in red blood cells. The most serious illnesses associated with Benzene are aplastic anemia and various types of leukemia, such as acute myelogenous leukemia (AML), acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL), chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML), and chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). In addition, some of the more rare forms of leukemia have been associated with exposure to Benzene.

Even if you do not currently work with Benzene, prior exposure may be sufficient for some workers to begin development of the Benzene related diseases. If you have been diagnosed with unexplained leukemia and you have worked with Benzene in your work, or have other exposure to Benzene please contact our law firm now to obtain a thorough legal evaluation of your claim and to learn more about our firm and the ways in which we have helped people with similar injuries.

Parkinson's Disease/Welding Rod Exposure

It has been known since the 1800's that a high concentration of manganese fumes can cause neurological impairment. Many types of welding rods contain manganese, which even when used properly give off manganese fumes. These fumes, especially in poorly ventilated areas, can cause the illness. Studies have shown that exposure to high concentrations of these fumes for as little as six months can lead to the illness or impairment. This impairment is called Manganism. Manganism is also known as "Welder's Disease" due to its prevalence among welders.

Manganism affects the central nervous system. Its symptoms are similar to Parkinson's disease in that patients suffer from some of the following: tremors or shakes, weakening of the muscles, loss of balance, fixed gaze or loss of facial expressions, and difficulty talking and swallowing. However, where Parkinson's patients will often respond to dopamine therapy, Manganism patients will not have the same response to therapy. The reason for the different response to therapy is that Parkinson's and Manganism affect different areas of the brain. Manganism is thought to affect the basal ganglia, where Parkinson's Disease is believed to affect the substatia nigra. While the link between welding and Manganism was clearly established many years ago, Parkinson's disease was believed to be unrelated to welding or welding rods. In fact, if an individual was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, their work as a welder was thought to be unrelated. A recent study is changing that belief.

It has long been believed that Parkinson's disease is environmentally caused. The welding industry has been aware of the potential link between manganese exposure and Parkinson's symptoms since the 1930's but has done nothing to protect the workers. In fact, it is being argued in courtrooms across the country that the welding industry has taken steps to keep this information from the average worker or downplay the significance of the danger.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, has Parkinson's like symptoms but has not yet been diagnosed, or has other neurological impairment or difficulty, and is or was a welder or around welding and would like to speak with attorneys involved in this area of law, please contact our law firm.

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