Dangers of Carcinogens

Suggest that some substance or another is a “known carcinogen” and most people’s eyes go wide with fear as they imagine another example of technology run amok – another synthetic, man-made horror spreading disease and death.

What is a Carcinogen?

In fact, the term carcinogen refers to a wide variety of substances– man-made and naturally occurring– as well as radiation emitted from substances– again some man-made and some naturally occurring– that are directly associated with the occurrence of cancer or that promote its growth.  Exposure to a carcinogen does not necessarily result in the formation of a cancer but these agents have been proven to dramatically increase the risk of cancer and are classified as cancer forming agents.

Exposure to Carinogens

As dangerous as carcinogens can be, they are surprisingly common in our daily lives.

  • Alcohol increases the risk of oral and esophageal cancer.
  • Arsenic can cause lung and other cancers.
  • Inhaled asbestos can cause lung and related cancers.
  • Benzene can cause the blood cancer, leukemia and the bone marrow cancer, myeloma.
  • Methylene chloride, the propellant used in many aerosol products, can cause liver, lung and brain cancer. Some products containing methylene chloride have been removed from the commercial market, but methylene chloride continues to be found in a variety of consumer products such as spray paints and paint strippers.
  • Formaldehyde can cause nasal cancer.
  • Inhaled tobacco smoke causes lung, oral, esophageal, and bladder cancer.
  • Smokeless tobacco also increases the risk of oral cancer.
  • Unprotected exposure to sunlight (UV radiation) is associated with skin cancers including basal cell cancer, squamous cell cancer and malignant melanoma.
  • Pesticide bombs in the home increase the risk of childhood brain cancer.
  • Pesticides used to control ants and termites and fleas increase the risk of certain cancers as do garden insecticides and herbicides used to control weeds.
  • Certain hair dyes have been statistically linked to lymphoma cases among women.
  • Certain bleaches and cleansers contain crystalline silica, which is associated with lung cancer.

Because they are present in so many manufacturing processes and products as well as in naturally occurring forms such as the sunlight we welcome every day, we are unwittingly exposed to carcinogens in the air we breathe, the sunlight we enjoy, the water we drink, and in many consumer products we use daily. Carcinogens are taken into our bodies through the respiratory tract, the gastro-intestinal tract and through the skin.

Liability for Carcinogens

Our legal system is designed to protect the consuming public from unreasonable risks and dangers that can be avoided with the use of proper care in the manufacture, sale and distribution of products that contain hazardous substances and by providing proper warnings about the risks associated with the use of certain products.   It is not the case that any exposure to any carcinogen will cause cancer.  Many carcinogens require repeated, long term exposure to cause cancer in humans.  As a result establishing a causal link between exposure to a carcinogen and the occurrence of cancer is oftentimes difficult.

Legal Help

There is no question that exposure to known carcinogens is a major public issue.  The costs, both in dollars spent on treatment and the anguish of having yourself or a family member suffer from a preventable cancer, are enormous.  Whether you already have a disease that is related to exposure to a known carcinogen, or were exposed to known carcinogens but have no symptoms, or think you may have been exposed to a known carcinogen, you should contact a qualified attorney to discuss your situation and your rights to compensation.  Contact your local or state bar association for referrals to attorneys who are qualified and experienced in litigating claims for cancer related disease.

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