Montana residents Cynthia Davidson and David Davidson have filed a lawsuit in Madison County Circuit Court against 3M, BP, and The Glidden Company, among other companies, claiming they are responsible for benzene exposure they say led to Mrs. Davidson’s development of leukemia.
According to Mrs. Davidson, multiple companies are to blame for her 2014 diagnosis of acute myelogenous leukemia (AML), a blood cancer. The lawsuit alleges the companies failed to “implement proper safety measures” to prevent her benzene exposure. She is seeking $50,000 in compensatory damages plus court costs.
AML happens when the DNA of a developing bone marrow cell is damaged, and the cell becomes a leukemic cell, which multiplies exponentially. AML then affects partially developed normal cells and impedes their function (known as leukemia blasts). As the leukemia blasts grow, they overpower and block the production of normal cells.
Benzene is a known carcinogen that, according to the American Cancer Society, is a cause of AML. It is a chemical used in a wide variety of products and product manufacturing, from carpet cleaners to cigarette smoke. The most common exposure pathway is through inhalation, but benzene can also be absorbed into the skin. Once in the bloodstream, benzene affects the bone marrow, thus potentially causing AML or other life-threatening diseases such as Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS), lymphomas and Aplastic Anemia.
Occupational exposure to the chemical puts workers at higher risk of developing benzene-related illness and injury. Benzene is present in small amounts in the atmosphere, but employees who work in close proximity to benzene or benzene-containing products are at elevated risk because they are exposed to higher levels for longer periods of time.