Vinyl Chloride Exposure Known to Cause Brain Cancer
Recent studies indicate that some cancer patients have developed brain tumors after exposure to vinyl chloride, from residential or specific occupational settings. The U.S. National Toxicology Program (NTP) classifies vinyl chloride as a “known human carcinogen.” The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) echoes this assessment of the toxic chemical.
Vinyl chloride (VC) is produced almost exclusively for polymerization into polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a plastic used in the auto, tire and rubber industry, homebuilding, construction piping, packaging, wire coatings, and transportation. Vinyl chloride may also be present in household products such as flooring, furniture and water piping. Global PVC pipe production in 2002 was valued at over US$19 billion.
The majority of VC-related brain cancer cases have been associated with occupational exposure, where workers were highly exposed to vinyl chloride through inhalation and oral exposure. Studies in workers who have inhaled vinyl chloride over many years show an increased risk of developing brain cancer, lung cancer, liver cancer and some cancers of the blood. Subsequent lawsuits and settlements are valued at millions of dollars, compensating victims and their families for medical expenses and the loss of life.
Who Risks Vinyl Chloride Exposure?
Ohio workers in the chemical, plastics, tire and rubber, automotive and homebuilding industries face the highest glioblastoma brain cancer risk. Workers at homebuilding, rubber and tire, automotive or chemical sites or facilities where VC is produced or used may be exposed primarily through inhalation.
You may also be at exposure risk if you work in or live near an industrial facility that manufactures or processes vinyl chloride. Groundwater contamination could also be sources for VC exposure.
Ohio Workers Risking VC Exposure
• Ohio Construction workers
• Petrochemical production plant workers
• Ohio Autoworkers
• Ohio Tire & Rubber plant workers
• Plastic pipe (PVC) manufacturers
• Toy manufactures
• Furniture and upholstery workers
Brain Cancer Associated with VC Exposure
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has classified vinyl chloride as a “Group A human carcinogen.” Exposure to VC is likely to cause chemical reactions that target the brain, liver, and lungs. Vinyl chloride exposure is associated with an increased risk of developing glioblastoma brain tumors, as well as a number of other serious conditions including the following:
Workers and Residents Exposed to Vinyl Chloride
The biggest dangers of VC come during the production process. First, the vinyl chloride monomer is produced and shipped to plants that produce a polyvinyl chloride resin. At this stage, VC is polymerized and then fabricated into a myriad of finished products.
If exposed to vinyl chloride as a result of breathing the chemical’s vapors, the body’s central nervous system may be depressed. Acute exposures may result in lightheadedness and nausea. Severe vinyl chloride exposure may cause death.
Chronic exposure may result in liver damage and brain tumor formation. Some cancer cases may take up to 15 years to develop after the initial exposure.
Brain Cancer Clusters & Vinyl Chloride Exposure
For decades, health officials have known VC to cause cancer. After a high incidence of brain cancer among workers at the Texas Union Carbide Corp. petrochemical plant, a federal health investigation determined VC was the likely suspect. Around the same time, another cluster of brain cancer cases was discovered at a Monsanto plant, where vinyl chloride was produced.
In 2014, residents of McCullom Lake, Illinois, settled a lawsuit in which they claimed exposure to VC from a nearby Dow Chemical plant. A brain cancer cluster of 33 brain tumors was reported.
Some PVC plants around the country still emit vinyl chloride into the air. In 2014, companies reported releasing more than 500,000 pounds of VC into the atmosphere, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
American VC and PVC products
• JM Eagle
• Cresline Plastic Pipe Co.
• Atkore Plastic Pipe
• Pacific Plastic Inc.
• Spears Manufacturing Co.
• North American Pipe Corp.
• Crumpler Plastic Pipe Corp.
• National Pipe & Plastics Inc.
• Dow Chemical Co.
• Monsanto Chemical Co.
• Shell Oil Co.
Joe Lyon is a highly-rated Cincinnati Personal Injury Lawyer and Ohio Toxic Tory Attorney who has represented individuals nationwide in toxic tort claims. If you have developed cancer due to exposure to VC on the job in Ohio, and have questions about your legal rights, please contact The Lyon Firm.