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Inks & Press Washes

As a result of occupational exposure to printing inks and washes, many printers and pressmen are at an increased risk for cancer. Call 1-800-BENZENE today to learn more.

Why are Pressmen at Elevated Risk for Cancer?

Pressmen are at elevated risk for cancer – specifically leukemia – because, in years past, many printing inks, press washes, blanket washes, and roller washes contained significant amounts of benzene.

What is Benzene?

Benzene is a carcinogenic aromatic hydrocarbon. It has a sweet odor and is known to cause cancer. [1] Benzene occurs naturally in petroleum and it can be found in many of the petroleum-based solvents used to make washes and dilute printing inks. There is no safe level for exposure to benzene.

What Cancers are Related to Printing Inks & Press Washes?

Benzene is known to cause acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and it has also been associated with numerous other cancers and leukemias. [1] If you or a loved one worked in the printing industry and received a diagnosis for one of the following conditions, you may be entitled to compensation.

Benzene Exposure Routes:  Printers & Pressmen

Inhalation – Printers and pressmen inhaled large amounts of benzene vapors when they worked with benzene-rich inks and washes. These types of exposures were, sadly, routine in the printing industry for many decades. Many presses lacked adequate ventilation and respirators were rarely provided.

Skin Absorption – Dermal exposures are also dangerous. Benzene can actually be absorbed through the skin and then into the bloodstream. Such exposures are common when cleaning presses and mixing ink. Some pressmen even washed their hands with benzene-containing solvents.

Ingestion – While less common than inhalation or skin absorption, ingestion of benzene can be harmful when it does occur. Benzene can be more readily absorbed through the stomach than it is through the lungs or skin. Think of the scenario where a pressman fails to properly wash his hands before eating his lunch.

How Much Benzene are Pressmen Exposed to?

In the 1960’s, some press washes, blanket washes, and roller washes were pure benzene. These exposures were outrageously toxic to the blood and bone marrow systems of the printing industry workers. As a result of the number of sickened workers, the use of pure benzene in the printing industry was eventually phased out. However, that was not the end of dangerous benzene exposures in the printing industry.

Many presses replaced pure benzene with other petroleum solvents such as toluene and xylene. Unfortunately, just about every petroleum solvent is contaminated with some quantity of benzene. Industrial-grade toluene, for example, might be as much as one-quarter benzene. [2 – 4] Consequently, even in recent decades, many pressmen continued to be exposed to dangerous amounts of benzene.

Today, the amount of benzene found in petroleum solvents and, by extension, printing inks and washes has been greatly reduced. However, chronic exposures to trace quantities of benzene may amount to dangerous levels over time.

Who Is Held Responsible for a Pressman’s Leukemia?

When benzene exposures cause a worker’s leukemia, we mainly file lawsuits against the manufacturers of the benzene-containing products. Our focus is on the petro-chemical conglomerates who knew that benzene was dangerous and yet, failed to warn the end users of the products. Some examples of how these claims work can be found below.

Leukemia Lawyers for Printers and Pressmen

If you or a loved one worked in the printing industry and received a diagnosis of AML, MDS, NHL, MM, or another type of leukemia, contact Hughes Law Offices today. Your time to file a lawsuit is limited. Request an appointment online, or call 1-800-BENZENE to speak directly with one of our benzene attorneys. All consultations are free of charge.

Printers & Pressmen Verdicts & Settlements

$840,000 verdict (Pennsylvania, 2016)

A pressman sued the manufacturers of the benzene-containing inks and washes he had been exposed to after he was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia while he was in his mid-50s. By the time of trial, US Steel was the only remaining defendant. All of the other defendants had either settled or been dismissed from the case. US Steel manufactured the benzene-containing petroleum solvents that were in the printing inks and washes that the Plaintiff had used in 1973 through 2006. The jury concluded that US Steel was recklessly indifferent to the safety of others and had fraudulently concealed important information about the dangers of its products.

$1,800,000 aggregate settlement (California, 2009)

A lithographic printer passed away at the age of 60 after being diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. During his 33-year career in the industry, he was exposed to a large variety of benzene-containing inks and washes. The Decedent’s estate named more than 60 Defendants and 1,266 products that they alleged caused the Decedent’s illness. The Defendants realized that any verdict could be substantial and one by one they agreed to settle. The total settlement value was in excess of $1.8 million.

$975,000 settlement (California, 2006)

A 58-year-old Plaintiff developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma after enduring chronic benzene exposures throughout his 37-year career in the printing industry. He had worked as a press operator and in other roles within the industry.

$600,000 settlement (California, 2005)

A 29-year-old silk screen printer suffered serious injuries to his internal organs, including thrombocytopenic purpura, which required him to undergo a splenectomy. During his four years in the industry, he was exposed to numerous inks and solvents that contained benzene. The parties agreed to settle the case for a total amount exceeding $600,000.

Hughes Law Offices is providing case histories to inform visitors about actual case fact patterns, settlements, verdicts, and rulings. Unless specifically noted, the cases summarized herein were not handled by attorneys at Hughes Law Offices.




[3] American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists. Notice of intended changes – toluene, trimethylamine, and vinyl acetate (ACGIH 1991).

[4] Criteria Document on Occupational Exposure to Toluene (NIOSH 1973)

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