Pipefitters have been integral to the growth of industry in the United States. Unfortunately, pipefitters are at an increased risk of developing certain blood and bone cancers including acute myeloid leukemia (AML), non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL), multiple myeloma (MM), and myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS). It has been known for years that these cancers can be caused by exposure to benzene, a sweet-smelling toxin.
Pipefitters who have worked at coke-manufacturing facilities have successfully brought lawsuits because benzene is a byproduct of coke production. This benzene can be sold once captured. Unfortunately, while care was often taken to capture the benzene, proper care was not taken to protect the fitters who were changing packing on valves or servicing, installing, or replacing pumps. Pipefitters at coke facilities have testified that they inhaled benzene vapors and got benzene or benzene-containing products on their skin. Benzene exposures, even those occurring decades ago, can lead to leukemia diagnosis today.