Which Workers in Oregon are at Elevated Risk for Leukemia?
In past years, there were numerous industries in Oregon in which benzene exposures were common. The professions that are at risk for leukemia due to benzene exposures include:
- Maritime Workers
- Truck Drivers
- Refinery Workers
- Chemical Workers
- Railroad Workers
- Gas Station Attendants
Were Benzene Exposures Common in Oregon?
In the trades listed above, occupational exposures to benzene were tragically routine. For example, benzene exposures among mechanics and painters in Oregon were generally just as bad as the exposures among mechanics and painters in other states. They were all using the same benzene-containing products.
However, in some settings in Oregon, benzene exposures were more common than they were elsewhere in the country. Gas station attendants in Oregon are perhaps the starkest example. Oregon is one of the two states that still has full-service gas stations. Even today, gasoline contains a significant amount of benzene. In the days before vapor recovery systems, pumping gas could expose you to dangerous levels of benzene. For Oregon gas station attendants who pumped gas around the clock throughout their workday, these exposures quickly add up.
That being said, the risk of benzene exposure to Oregon workers does not begin at the gas pump. Every drop of gasoline that comes out of the pump has to be delivered. The truck drivers who haul the gasoline from distribution centers to gas stations risk intense exposures to benzene during the loading and unloading of gasoline. Moreover, Oregon imports nearly all of its petroleum fuels from outside of the state.  The vast majority of it makes it across state lines via ships and barges or through a pipeline. Consequently, the maritime workers who transport and load these vessels and the pipefitters who operate and maintain the pipelines are at risk for exposure.
Oregon is also home to a bustling manufacturing industry.  Workers in the manufacturing sector were historically at risk for benzene exposures because many of the industrial solvents, degreasers, sealants, lubricants, greases, and cleaning agents were contaminated with benzene.
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What is Benzene?
Benzene is a highly-flammable chemical that occurs naturally in crude oil. At room temperature, it appears as a colorless or light yellow liquid with a sweet aroma. Benzene is among the top 20 most widely used chemicals in the United States.  Today, it is primarily used as a chemical feedstock.
Does Benzene Cause Cancer?
Yes, benzene is classified as a Group 1 carcinogen.  Group 1 carcinogens are agents that are known to cause cancer. Asbestos, cigarette smoke, and plutonium are examples of other Group 1 carcinogens. Benzene exposure is linked to several forms of leukemia such as:
- Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML)
- Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS)
- Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (NHL)
- Multiple Myeloma (MM)
- Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL)
- Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL)
- Aplastic Anemia
Can I File a Benzene Lawsuit in Oregon?
Yes, lawsuits brought on behalf of workers exposed to benzene are regularly filed in Oregon. Why is that? It’s not just because so many Oregonians have been exposed to benzene. There are a variety of reasons, but one of the main ones is the way Oregon’s laws are written.
In some states, the laws are much more favorable to corporations than they are to sickened workers. As a result, the workers in those states who (through no fault of their own) get sick after being exposed to benzene have a much more difficult time going after the companies that are responsible for their exposures. Thankfully, however, Oregon’s laws are fairly consumer friendly which makes Oregon a relatively good jurisdiction in which to file a claim.
That being said, these types of cases are never easy to win. As you can imagine, holding multi-billion dollar corporations to account for their actions is no small task. Prevailing in the courtroom requires retaining experienced benzene attorneys who know how to connect your illness with exposures that may have occurred decades ago.
We May Be Able To Help
Hughes Law Offices has experience with benzene cases in Oregon. If you or a loved one has been exposed to benzene and diagnosed with leukemia, call 1-800-BENZENE today and speak with a lawyer for a free consultation. Your time to file a claim is limited.
 IARC Monograph 120 – Benzene