According to the Southeast Texas Record, Peggy Melancon filed the benzene lawsuit in Jefferson County, Texas, District Court Feb. 22, naming Amoco, Atlantic Richfield, BP, Chevron USA, ExxonMobil, Shell Oil, Sunoco, Texaco, and many others as defendants.
Ms. Melacon’s lawsuit says that her husband Cecil Melancon was a long-time DuPont employee and that he worked at the company’s Beaumont Works facility as a lab technician. Ms. Melancon claims her husband was continually exposed to benzene in that job from the time he started work there through the late 1970s.
As a result of his employment at the DuPont facility, the lawsuit alleges, Mr. Melancon developed acute myelogenous leukemia (AML), “from which he died a painful and terrible death” in October of last year, the lawsuit alleges.
The lawsuit asserts that the plaintiff is entitled to punitive damages because the defendant companies were grossly negligent.
Benzene is colorless or light yellow chemical in liquid form. It evaporates quickly in when it contacts air, creating a potential environmental and health risk.
Outdoor air contains low levels of benzene from tobacco smoke, gas stations, motor vehicle exhaust, and industrial emissions. Concentrations of benzene are higher in indoor air because they are emitted from glues, paints, furniture wax, detergents, and other solutions that contain the chemical.
People most at risk of developing health problems from benzene are those who work with the chemical or are exposed to it in industrial applications.
Long-term benzene from exposure causes harmful effects on the bone marrow, which may result in a decrease in red blood cells, leading to anemia. It can also cause excessive bleeding and can affect the immune system, increasing the chance for infection. The Department of Health and Human Services has determined that long-term benzene exposure causes cancer, particularly leukemia, cancer of the blood forming organs.