Tire Production and Rubber Workers at High Cancer Risk


For decades, Akron, Ohio was known as the “Rubber Capital of the World.” The northeast Ohio region once held almost half of the state’s polymer industry, which accounted for a large part of America’s tire and rubber manufacturing. However, one of the great downfalls of the tire and rubber industry was the fact that thousands of former tire and rubber workers in Akron and elsewhere in Ohio were exposed to toxic materials at the workplace, including Benzene, which is known to cause cancers like  Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS) and Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML).

Benzene has been a concern for medical experts for many decades. The chemical is known to cause several forms of cancers and blood disorders in employees with chronic exposure. But even with the knowledge that their workers were exposed to toxins at Ohio tire and rubber plants, corporations continued to manufacture dangerous products, failed to warn employees of the health risks, and failed to offer workers proper protection against the cancer-causing exposure.


How Are Rubber Workers Exposed to Benzene?

The production of tires and certain rubber products involves subjecting dangerous mixtures of hundreds of chemicals to heat and pressure during a variety of manufacturing processes. As a result, work environments are regularly contaminated with toxic dusts, gases, vapors, fumes, and chemical byproducts.

Exposure to Benzene in Ohio tire and rubber manufacturing remains a serious occupational health concern. Workers are exposed to Benzene by skin contact or inhalation. Aside from several cancers, rubber manufacturing work is associated with a high prevalence of dermatologic diseases such as eczema, allergic contact dermatitis and atopic dermatitis.

Cancer cases and deaths have been reported from hundreds of former rubber and tire workers. Cancers affect the blood, bladder, stomach, lung, and other areas of the body among workers involved in the manufacture of tires and other rubber products. Rubber workers in Ohio may also risk respiratory disease, heart disease, dermatologic diseases, and negative reproductive defects.


Rubber Products which may Contain Benzene

Employees of rubber and tire manufacturing facilities on the production line have an increased risk of developing complications and diseases from benzene exposure. Benzene-containing products are used in numerous steps during the production of the rubber and tires, and toxins are potentially released into the air around the following product lines:

  • Tires
  • Inner tubes
  • Rubber and plastic footwear
  • Rubber and plastic hoses
  • Rubber belting
  • Gaskets
  • Sealing devices
  • Molded, extruded, and lathe-cut rubber mechanical goods
  • Other fabricated rubber products

Types of Cancer Linked to Benzene

A worker exposed to benzene for 40 years at the workplace is 155 times more likely to die from leukemia than an unexposed worker. Auto mechanics, printers, barge workers, petrochemical workers, and gas truck drivers are at risk.

Workers that maintain rubber manufacturing equipment and clean the facility are also at risk for long term benzene exposure and related cancers. Although they may not be working on the production line or directly handling products containing benzene, they are exposed in an environment with a concentration of airborne benzene fumes.

Recently the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimated that 5 million Americans, not including those with workplace exposures, face increased cancer risks from benzene and over 60 other common carcinogens. Long-term exposure to high levels of benzene in the air can cause AML and MDS. Benzene is associated with the following types of cancer:


Legal Representation for Tire and Rubber Workers

Rubber Workers Benzene

If you or a loved one has suffered an illness due to Benzene Exposure and have questions about the legal remedies available to improve quality of life and medical care in Ohio, contact The Lyon Firm (800) 513-2403. You will speak directly with Mr. Lyon, and he will help you answer these critical questions.