» Myelodysplastic Syndromes Wed, 26 Dec 2012 21:04:39 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Smokers Face Increased Myelodysplastic Syndromes Risk Sat, 26 Sep 2009 13:14:17 +0000 These days it’s common knowledge that smoking tobacco causes cancer, and that when used as directed, the product will ultimately kill you. When we think of tobacco related diseases, lung cancer and lung diseases typically come to mind, but new evidence suggests that smokers are also at increased risk of myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS).

Exposure to the hydrocarbon benzene is a risk factor for developing MDS. Cigarettes contain benzene as an additive. Benzene also occurs naturally as a byproduct of combustion, so smokers get a double dose of the carcinogen. 

MDS is a bone marrow failure (BMF) disorder that is associated with benzene exposure. BMF disorders interfere with the body’s ability to create new blood cells, severely compromising the immune system. Effective treatments include blood transfusions, and stem cell transplants. The latter can cure the condition, but only for those fortunate enough to find a matching donor.

The authors of the new study say that the results make "biological sense." They say that this is not only because cigarettes are a leading benzene exposure source, but also because smoking causes chromosomal abnormalities also associated myelodysplastic syndromes.

The study was a review of ten previous studies and was carried out by researchers from the University of Pittsburgh, Amgen, The Cleveland Clinic, and SUNY downstate. 

Authors of the study concluded that smokers are 45% more likely to develop MDS, than non-smokers. 




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Nightmare For Residents of Benzene Tainted Neighborhood Thu, 24 Sep 2009 15:22:33 +0000 A few weeks back I posted about an L.A. County housing tract in Carson Ca. found to be heavily contaminated with underground benzene and methane. The pollution came from defunct underground tanks operated by Shell Oil Co. on the site for forty years ending in 1960.

When I last posted about this, the nightmare was just beginning for those living in the 275 home Carousel neighborhood. Barbara Post, president of the Carousel Homeowners’ Association had said:

"Chemicals are a serious matter, we have to trust that Shell is going to take care of it for us."

Trusting Shell is not a good plan, fortunately Barbara Post is starting to see more clearly:

"I’ve been worried about this, but I’m scared to death now, Shell can’t replace my house, and they can’t replace that neighborhood."

Weeks ago Shell had only drilled samples from the public roads and had just begun asking home owners for permission to test private properties. Shell, of course, was optimistic:

 "We don’t believe that there is reason to be concerned from a safety perspective, but we felt like it was the right thing to do to make sure there were not the same levels detected on residential properties."-Shell spokeswoman Alison Chassen

Would Chassen be concerned if it were her neighborhood? Definitely. It is well known that subterranean benzene has a nasty habit of seeping into structures built above it, and contaminating ground water.

Benzene is an aromatic hydrocarbon and known human carcinogen. It interferes with the body’s ability to produce new blood cells, a crucial part of the human immune system. Benzene exposure has been linked to debilitating and potentially fatal blood diseases like acute lymphocytic leukemia, acute myeloid leukemia, aplastic anemia, myelodysplastic syndromes, and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The possibility of people contracting these disorders should be of concern from any reasonable "safety perspective."

Recently, 300 residents met with lawyers to discuss a lawsuit against Shell. According to the lawyers, at some sites, benzene levels are 100,000 times accepted state standards. Robert Bowcock, an environmental consultant hired by the law firm told residents:

 "You’ve been exposed to a very high level, I’m incensed and angry that Shell let this happen. Shell is not interested in being your friend. They will do absolutely the minimum they are required to do. We know the games they can play and we’re going to hold their feet to the fire."

Precedent indicates that Bowcock is correct. A benzene lawsuit is the only way to force Shell to properly compensate residents for damage to their properties, and their health.


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EPA Sues Utah Chem Co. Citing Mishandled Waste Mon, 14 Sep 2009 00:19:16 +0000 Parish chemical Co. in Vineyard Utah faces a lawsuit filed late last week by the EPA. The suit stems from a 2008 inspection during which federal investigators discovered a staggering collection of toxic waste sitting “unsecured” in hundreds of open vats and containers.

According to the suit, the containers were “failing” and “improperly managed.” In order to “reduce the potential of fire and/or explosion,” EPA workers removed hundreds of the containers from the site.

Appallingly, many of the containers were not labeled as hazardous or had no label, others sported question marks, or labels reading “unknown.”

The lack of care clearly displayed by the company was not because the chemicals were considered benign, the substances discovered at Parish are some of the most flammable, volatile, and health hazardous chemicals currently in use. The list includes methylene chloride, acetone, petroleum ether, benzene, toluene, and perchloric acid.

The following list of additional allegations appeared in yesterday’s Salt Lake Tribune:

  •  Records for wastes shipped off-site were incomplete.
  •  Drums had collapsed or were in poor condition.
  •  Hazardous wastes were stored for years beyond a 90-day limit.
  •  There was no record of tank inspections or air emissions tests.
  •  The company did not have liability coverage for accidents.

According to the lawsuit, the cost of the federal response was $640,000. The suit seeks penalties of $32,500 to $37,500 per violation.

This type of reckless behavior puts workers at risk of unnecessary chemical exposure. Obviously Parish Chemical Co. has a very lax attitude about storing dangerous waste which directly indicates a lax attitude towards worker health and longevity.

All of the above listed chemicals are hazardous to human health, especially benzene. Long term exposure to the chemical severely impairs the immune system by disrupting the body’s ability to produce blood cells, this can result in a number of potentially fatal hematological disorders like, aplastic anemia, myelodysplastic syndromes, acute myeloid leukemia and acute lymphocytic leukemia.

Parish will lose this case and pay a relatively small fine, but in situations like this it’s the workers that really lose. At place like Parish an employee who regularly clocks in to do his or her job could be rewarded with a debilitating and potentially fatal illness. Sadly this is not uncommon, even with today’s laws and safeguards workers are often sickened due to the actions of their employers.

If you or a loved one have been wrongfully harmed by benzene at work, it is important to speak with a benzene lawyer without delay. Some states have statues of limitations (time limits) that could block you from compensation. Reputable benzene lawyers charge nothing to discuss your case, and only receive payment if your case is successful.


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L.A. County Homes Sit Over “Extensive” Benzene, Methane Tue, 01 Sep 2009 00:38:00 +0000 reports that Shell Oil Co. has found the ground beneath the Carousel housing tract in Carson Ca., to be extensively contaminated with benzene and methane. 

The contamination is thought to stem from shell owned oil reserves operated on the land from the 1920′s to 1960′s. In those days, oil was stored in subterranean concrete lined tanks which are now illegal due to problems with leakage. Today oil is stored in above ground tanks.

Barbara Post, president of the Carousel Homeowners’ Association said:

"Chemicals are a serious matter, we have to trust that Shell is going to take care of it for us."

So far, Shell seems to be reacting to the situation responsibly, but that attitude seems a bit naive. If one must trust Shell to take care of something like this, I would recommend also taking all possible measures toward forcing them to do the right thing.

Oil companies can be counted on to downplay any contamination related issue, here’s a text book quote from shell spokeswoman Alison Chassen:

"We don’t believe that there is reason to be concerned from a safety perspective, but we felt like it was the right thing to do to make sure there were not the same levels detected on residential properties."

No reason for concern? Very comforting I’m sure to for the 275 home owners on the Carousel tract.

Chassen is full of it. There is at the very least, some reason for concern in the area of safety when your neighborhood is found to be sitting on a toxic chemical plume. One such reason is that extensive subterranean benzene contamination has been known release fumes that seep into the structures located over the plume, potentially exposing residents to one of the most carcinogenic substances known to humans. 

Benzene exposure has been linked to debilitating and potentially fatal blood diseases like acute lymphocytic leukemia, acute myeloid leukemia, aplastic anemia, myelodysplastic syndromes, and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The possibility of people contracting these disorders should be of concern from any reasonable "safety perspective."

So far the testing has been done only on public rights of way, Shell is now seeking home owner’s permission to test their yards.

The Regional Water Quality Control Board is overseeing the testing.


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Indiana Chem Plant Will Pay Fine, Make Repairs Fri, 28 Aug 2009 00:32:44 +0000 According to the Indianapolis Star, the Indianapolis based chemical plant Vertellus, formerly Reily Tar & Chemical Co., has agreed to pay a 425,000 in fines and to a two year  $705,000 repair plan aimed at leak prevention and emissions monitoring.

Failure to comply with [chemical] leak detection and repair requirements under federal emissions standards for hazardous air pollutants was the rap.

The company arrogantly professed:

"[Vertellus] is confident that these emissions did not have any effect on it’s employees or neighbors."


"Vertillus is confident that you people can’t prove anything and cannot afford to oppose us. Don’t mess with us…

Benzene has a long history of association with illness. Even when first manufactured in the early 1800′s, benzene was suspected of harming human health. In 1928 the first study came out validating long held fears that benzene increases the risk of leukemia. In 1948 the American Petroleum Institute published a toxicological review of benzene stating that benzene caused leukemia, and that there was no safe exposure level.

Since then many studies have firmly established that benzene exposure can lead to acute myelogenous leukemia, acute lymphocytic leukemia, aplastic anemia, myelodysplastic syndromes and more. 

A recent study on Chinese workers found that airborne benzene levels of just 1ppm, (allowable levels according to OSHA and NIOSH standards,) caused a notable reduction in blood cell production. This shed light on the possibility that long term exposure to even minute levels of the chemical could lead to the bone marrow failure disorders mentioned in the above paragraph.

Over a hundred years of evidence links benzene to sickness and death. Thishas lead to reductions in it’s use, and stricter regulation by OSHA and NIOSH limiting work place exposure. Both agencies still allow some airborne benzene to be present in work environments.

If you or a loved one have been harmed by benzene, a benzene lawyer is your best bet. Benzene lawyers know how to handle powerful corporations and make them pay for carelessly harming workers, and those who live in close proximity to industry.




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Study: Paraffin Based Candles Release Toxic Chemicals Sun, 23 Aug 2009 03:04:28 +0000 A new study receiving lots of attention this week has shown that burning common paraffin wax based candles releases potentially harmful pollutants.

Scientists from South Carolina State University burned candles in a special chamber so as to monitor the contents of the smoke, and found that benzene, toluene and ketones where present.

Benzene has been linked to bone marrow failure disorders like aplastic anemia, myelodysplastic syndromes, and acute lymphocytic leukemia. Toluene and ketones are associated with asthma and birth defects.

Researcher and study co-author Amid Hamidi:

"Each time a candle is burned, if it is paraffin, which is basically petroleum-based, it provides really nasty chemicals in the emissions."

How worried should we be? Hamidi clarifies:

"Candles are so widespread, an occasional paraffin candle and its emissions will not likely affect you. But lighting many paraffin candles every day for years or lighting them frequently in an unventilated bathroom around a tub, for example, may cause problems."

The researchers also looked at emissions from vegetable and beeswax based candles.


"Although more expensive, apparently [they] are healthier. They do not release potentially harmful amounts of indoor air pollutants while retaining all of the warmth, ambiance and fragrance of paraffin candles (which are made from petroleum).

OK, here’s the grain of salt. The study was funded by a grant tilted "Soybean Candles for a healthy Life and well Being."

As you might imagine the National Candle Association does not agree with this study, and points to a German study it funded which found that paraffin based wax candles are safe.

Barbara Miller, spokesperson for the National Candle Association:

“all candles burn about the same way … When you burn a candle properly, you should get carbon dioxide and water vapor.”

Burn a candle properly? How many ways are there to burn one?

Lets be clear, benzene is a natural byproduct of combustion, if you chose to burn anything at all inside your house, your indoor benzene levels will go up.

There’s no doubt in my mind that burning paraffin candles is less healthy than burning "natural wax" candles. I would have told you that well before this study, which is just more fodder in the ongoing battle between "conventional" and "natural" products. 


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Railway Worker Sues Former Employer Over Benzene Exposure Thu, 13 Aug 2009 01:14:08 +0000 The Texas legal journal Southeast Texas Record reports that "a man who claims he was exposed to benzene and other carcinogens throughout his career with the Kansas City Southern Railway Co. has filed suit against his former employer."

Richard Czuprynski says that during his employment with KCS, he was exposed to benzene, xylene, toluene, mixed solvents and diesel exhaust (which also contains benzene and other chemicals).

Czuprynski worked for the railway as a conductor, brakeman and engineer, from 1976 through march of this year.

The suit lists a number of "negligent acts" on the part of the KCS:

  • failure to provide a safe place to work
  • failure to limit hazardous substance exposure
  • failure to warn of dangers of hazardous substances
  • failure to provide adequate protective equipment

Czuprynski alleges that he developed the blood disease non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma as a result of his exposure to benzene. According to the suit he seeks compensation for his mental anguish, physical pain and suffering, lost earnings and benefits, and the related medical costs.

Czuprynski has a solid case here, he was clearly exposed to benzene on the job for years, and has a blood disorder that is clearly linked to benzene. The odds of a favorable outcome lie with Czuprynski.

Many Americans have been needlessly and carelessly exposed to benzene over the course of their careers leaving many who were simply doing their jobs sick and unable to work.

The fact is that industry has been aware of the dangers of benzene and of evidence that it causes cancer for over a hundred years. Today science continues to link specific blood disorders and leukemias with benzene exposure. The growing list includes non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, aplastic anemia, myelodysplastic syndromes, acute lymphocytic leukemia and acute myeloid leukemia.

If you or a loved one have worked in an industrial setting for any extended period and have been diagnosed with any of the above conditions, contact a benzene lawyer immediately. In some states statutes of limitations (time limits) exist that could prevent you from successfully obtaining compensation, even though your case may be cut and dry.  


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9/11 Rescue Workers Face Increased Multiple Myeloma Risk Tue, 11 Aug 2009 00:39:48 +0000 reports that 9/11 responders may face increased risk of the hematological disease multiple myeloma.

The brave and selfless heroes who worked at Ground Zero in the wake of the World Trade Center bombings have in many cases sacrificed their health for the good of the country. Most of them probably would have been there even if the EPA had not deliberately downplayed the risks posed by massive exposure to the carcinogenic dust and smoke. Perhaps if the EPA had taken the threat more seriously, more precautions could have been taken to protect the health and futures of those who risked it all to help others in our country’s hour of need. 

Countless photos show responders wearing SARS style dust masks, which in this case were the breathing protection equivalent of a sugar pill, not up to the task of filtering carcinogens from heavily chemical laden smoke.

The recent upswing of multiple myeloma in ground zero workers is being seen as the beginning of a "third wave" of debilitating ground zero related illness. The first wave was coughing and acute respiratory distress and the "second wave" was chronic lung diseases. Dr. Robin Herbert, co-director of the World Trade Center Medical Monitoring Program fears that this "third wave" could last for decades as most workers can safely be said to have inhaled large quantities of carcinogens, and many cancers take years to develop.

Alarmingly, though multiple myeloma is almost always a disease of the the elderly, with only 1% of cases found in patients under 40, half of the cases diagnosed in 9/11 rescue workers were identified among law enforcement officers under the age of 45. 

Dr. Denise Pereira, assistant professor of clinical medicine at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine said:

 "A lot of the things they were exposed to, such as benzene, have in the past possibly been implicated with an increased incidence in the cancer. It does make theoretical sense."

Benzene exposure has been proven to affect blood cell production in humans and is already linked to several other diseases of the blood and marrow such as aplastic anemia, myelodysplastic syndromes, acute lymphocytic leukemia, acute myelogenous leukemia, and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Peter Grandich, a billionaire philanthropist dedicated to supporting 9/11 workers said:.

"Of the 40,000 people who responded to ground zero after the attacks, 70 percent, or 33,000, are sick or dying as a result of their service, we are talking about thousands of EMTs [Emergency Medical Technicians], EMS [Emergency Medical Service] workers, police, fire, military, construction workers and volunteers from all over the country who now suffer from breathing and lung ailments, post-traumatic stress disorder, organ failure and other horrific physical and mental illnesses."

Many of these folks are now unable to work. Grandich expressed outrage at the plight of these brave souls: 

"As an American and a native New Yorker, I’m extremely upset that the true heroes of America’s greatest single tragedy are being totally discarded and left to literally die. And, despite this truly appalling occurrence, not one of them has been known to say if they had to do it all over again, they wouldn’t"

The U.S government should compensate all of these people and take care of them and their families for the rest of their lives. Their service to our country and the victims of 9/11 should be generously rewarded (I mean money here folks).

Since the above will probably never happen, especially since most of our tax dollars have recently been handed to corrupt bankers in what will one day be seen as the greatest most ingenious robbery in the history of human kind, the task of helping these families falls on you and me.

The Feal-Good Foundation, is a non-profit organization started by disabled ground zero worker John Feal, that raises money to help those harmed by their service at ground zero. Click here to check out the website and find out how you can help. While you’re there, check out the eye opening video "Save The Brave," which outlines the plight of 9/11 ground zero workers.




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Federal Money Going Towards Cleanup of Leaky Underground Tanks Fri, 07 Aug 2009 00:13:20 +0000 Old underground gas storage tanks put people at risk of exposure to benzene and other carcinogens. As these tanks deteriorate, they release their content into the ground, threatening to poison ground water, and drinking water wells.

According to a 2005 Sierra Club report, in 2005 the U.S. had 680,000 leaking underground storage tanks, with about 9,000 new leaks discovered annually. 

Fortunately the recent economic stimulus package includes $197,000 for storage tank cleanup. The funds are to be used for sites of unknown ownership, or where property owners are unwilling or unable to pay for the cleanup.

Margret Levin of the Sierra Club said:

"The longer that leaking tanks remain buried and aren’t cleaned up, the greater the chance of ground water contamination. The gasoline and oil from the tanks contain toxic substances such as benzene, toluene and heavy metals that can cause cancer and other health problems."

“The money that we’re getting won’t completely solve the problem, but it will help,” 

Long term exposure to even small amounts of benzene has been shown to reduce white blood cell counts, and has been linked to life threatening blood diseases and leukemias like, aplastic anemia, myelodysplastic syndromes, acute lymphocytic leukemia, acute myeloid leukemia and non-Hodgkins lymphoma.

People living near old or even newer gas stations, or any buried gas or oil tanks, face possible water table or well contamination and should consider having their water tested for petrochemicals.

If you or a loved one have been wrongfully exposed to benzene, your best ally is a qualified benzene lawyer. Benzene lawyers are familiar with all the issues surrounding wrongful benzene exposure, and are equipped to go up against even the most powerful corporations in order to obtain compensation for victims. A reputable benzene lawyer will ask for no money unless they win your case. If there is any chance you’ve been exposed, you owe it to yourself to contact a benzene lawyer today.


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Is Clean Air an Inalienable Right? Mon, 03 Aug 2009 00:20:41 +0000

According to the World Health Organization over 25% of illness world wide is caused by environmental toxins, meaning pollution.

Arguably, the ignorance that allowed humans to mindlessly pollute the planet in pursuit of economic prosperity fueled the industrial revolution and allowed the rise of industrialized nations in the 20th century. However, today there are many reasons why this mentality must be cast aside. Modern science has recently shed light on just how negatively pollution can affect our health and our environment. 

Benzene, just one carcinogen of the many found in modern pollution, has been shown to dramatically increase the risk of life threatening hematological (blood) diseases like aplastic anemia and myelodysplastic syndromes, and leukemias such as acute lymphocytic leukemia, and acute myelogenous leukemia. 

I’m sure many would point out that we have improved our nation’s air quality in the last 30 years, and that our air is now cleaner than ever. While this may be true, a large portion of our population is breathing toxic air daily. And while we’re on the subject, let’s remember the developing world. A major reason our air here in the U.S. is cleaner these days is that many big polluters have moved to to poorer nations with little or no regulation of pollution. This forces levels of pollution unknown in today’s U.S., on millions of the world’s poorest people.

Our air may be cleaner than ever, but in many densely populated parts of the U.S. the air quality is cause for alarm. Recent revelations as to the toxicity of the air outside many U.S. schools has lead the EPA to launch an unprecedented new air toxics monitoring initiative that will analyze the air outside 62 schools in 22 states. The schools are all in areas which according to government data, are determined to be toxic hot spots.

The EPA acknowledges that this program comes in the wake of a recent USA Today study which used government data to show that air outside 435 schools was more toxic than than air outside Meredeth Hitchens Elementary. Hitchens Elementary was an Ohio school closed in 2005 after the Ohio EPA discovered air born carcinogen concentrations 50 times higher than acceptable state levels.

Clearly we still have work to do cleaning up our nation’s air.

For all it’s hyperbole, I got a kick out of the following editorial from Ohio’s Ironton Tribune which makes the case for clean air as a inalienable right for all Americans. While a shade nationalistic I agree with this sentiment though I would extend the right to all inhabitants of the planet, and call it a human right. I think that the idea will almost certainly be embraced as the information age allows humans to learn exactly what they are breathing, and why it’s dangerous:

"When our founding fathers wrote that all Americans had certain inalienable rights they were trying to secure key liberties they felt all citizens deserved.

"Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness" were chief among these. It would have been impossible for the authors of the Declaration of Independence to know there was at least one more they should have included: the right to breathe clean air…"

Continue reading…

These days you’ve just got to ask yourself, why should anyone be allowed to release known carcinogens, at any level, into the air we all have to breathe?

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