A study conducted by researchers at Harvard University has found that men who are exposed to diesel exhaust fumes at work may have a higher risk of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as ALS (aka Lou Gehrig’s Disease). The study suggests that the longer men are exposed to diesel exhaust, the more likely they are to be diagnosed with ALS. Another aspect of the study found that women who are exposed to diesel exhaust regularly on the job do not seem to have the same risk.
The Study: Methodology and Results
The Harvard researchers looked at a group of around 1,600 patients in Denmark who were diagnosed with ALS over the past thirty years and gathered information on their employment histories to determine whether they had been exposed to diesel exhaust on a regular basis, and if so, for how long. They found that men who were highly likely to have been exposed to diesel exhaust for five to ten years were forty-five percent more likely to be diagnosed with ALS than their counterparts, who were not as likely to be exposed to diesel exhaust on the job.
What is ALS?
ALS is a motor neuron disease that affects the nerves responsible for controlling voluntary muscle groups. The symptoms can be very subtle at first, such that they are often overlooked. For example, a person in the earliest stages of ALS may notice that they are falling more often, or having trouble buttoning their shirts. But symptoms gradually increase over time. Common symptoms include:
- Muscle twitches in the arms, legs, shoulders, or tongue
- Tight and stiff muscles
- Slurred speech
- Nasal speech
- Difficulty chewing
- Difficulty swallowing
- Muscle weakness
Eventually, as symptoms worsen, a person may not be able to walk, stand, or use their hands or arms. They tend to have trouble staying nourished and maintaining a healthy body weight, because they burn calories at a faster rate than those without ALS.
Most people who suffer from ALS do not usually lose their mental capacity, although some suffer from dementia over time. Most people diagnosed with ALS eventually die from respiratory failure, between three to five years of their diagnosis.
Who Is at Risk for Developing ALS?
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), there are certain occupations that are associated with a potential risk of diesel exhaust exposure, including:
- Construction Workers
- Railroad workers
- Loading dock workers
- Truck drivers
- Garage and auto maintenance workers
- Factory workers who handle material
- Bridge and tunnel crews
- Heavy equipment operators
Because you give your all on the job, your employer should be there for you if you are injured at work. The Workers’ Compensation system was designed to protect American employees by requiring most employers to carry Workers’ Compensation insurance and provide injured workers with benefits.
Columbia Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. Are Dedicated to Fighting for Injured Workers
If you have been injured at work or have been diagnosed with a disease such as ALS that you suspect may be related to your occupation, our experienced Columbia Workers’ Compensation lawyers can help. At Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. we provide free consultations at our six office locations throughout South Carolina. Contact us at 803-929-3600 or by filling out an online contact form.
We represent clients throughout South Carolina, including Columbia, Aiken, Camden, Sumter, Orangeburg, Greenville, Florence, Beaufort, Irmo, Spartanburg, Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head Island, West Columbia, Rock Hill, Charleston, Lexington, Winnsboro, Summerville, and throughout the counties of Lexington County, Richland County, Sumter County, Charleston County, Aiken County, Florence County, Lancaster County, York County, Spartanburg County, Orangeburg County, Kershaw County, and Newberry County.