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Chemical Exposure and Colon Cancers

David C. Thompson, P.C.  June 28, 2023

Colon cancer is not the most-diagnosed cancer, but treatment for advanced cases is far less likely to be successful. Although there is no definitive single cause of the disease, its impetus has been linked to exposure to certain chemicals at home, work, and elsewhere.

Treating colon cancer is expensive, and because the disease is debilitating, patients find themselves with massive medical bills and little income to cover them. However, if you have been diagnosed with colon or colorectal cancer and suspect exposure to chemicals may have caused it, you have a path to compensation. 

David C. Thompson has been helping clients seek compensation for damages related to diseases caused by toxic exposure for more than 40 years. These are the types of cases he was assigned when he first started his legal career, and he has been dedicated to helping exposure victims and their families in Grand Forks and throughout North Dakota, including Bismarck, Fargo, and Minot.   

What Is Colon Cancer?

The end of the body’s digestive tract is the large intestine, also referred to as the colon. Polyps can form in the colon. If they are benign, they are not life-threatening. If they are malignant, they grow abnormal cells. If left untreated, those cells spread to other parts of the body as well. 

Colon cancer is not as prevalent as some cancers, such as breast or skin cancer, but the number of cases is increasing, especially among adults under age 45. Colon cancer screenings, such as colonoscopies, catch the disease earlier, when it can be more successfully treated, usually by immunotherapy, medications, surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. 

A family history of colon cancer, obesity, diets high in fat and low in fiber, high consumption of red meat, diabetes, sedentary lifestyles, inflammatory intestinal diseases such as Crohn’s, alcohol consumption, smoking, and race may increase your risk. Additionally, more and more scientific evidence suggests that exposure to certain chemicals, including those found in charred and grilled foods, foods fried in used oil, processed meat products treated with chemicals to redden them, and pesticides, may cause colon cancer. The link between chemical exposure and colon cancer is significant among employees who work in certain industries as well. 

Symptoms of colon cancer include blood in the stool, and changes in stool habits and quality, such as constipation or diarrhea, abdominal discomfort, gas, bloating, weakness, fatigue, and unexplained weight loss. Colon cancer takes a toll on your quality of life, both physically and emotionally. If not diagnosed and treated early, patients may need to use a colostomy bag and undergo invasive treatment. If diagnosed once the disease has metastasized, it is fatal.   

What Does Chemical Exposure Have to Do With Colon Cancer?

Workers in the beverage, steel and metalwork, machine manufacturing, mining, printing, leather manufacturing, agriculture, and food production and processing industries are among those exposed to chemicals linked to colon cancer. These workers are routinely exposed to chemicals such as asbestos, formaldehyde, inks and dyes, metal dust, chromium, petroleum products, foams, resins, pesticides, and other carcinogenic chemicals. 

For example, asbestos is heavily used in machine manufacturing because it protects gaskets, valves, pumps, bearings, and electrical equipment from high heat. Asbestos exposure has been linked to cancers, including colon cancer. 

Resins, methyl methacrylate, polyurethane foam, vinyl chloride, and polypropylene are used in petrochemical production, including the production of plastics and rubber. These chemicals have been linked to colon cancer and colorectal cancer.   

What About Regulatory Protections?

Occupational exposure to hazardous chemicals is regulated by the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1979, which gives the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) authority to enforce reporting, testing, and record-keeping requirements and to restrict the use of certain toxic chemicals. The EPA controls the use of existing chemicals as well as new chemicals as they are developed. Industries are required to maintain inventories which are monitored by the EPA.  

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) also enforces guidelines regarding the safe use of chemicals in the workplace. OSHA established training guidelines for workers exposed to hazardous chemicals and set exposure limits designed to protect them. 

Employers are required to provide safe working environments to their employees. In exposure cases, employees can file workers’ compensation claims. In certain cases, they can also file a third-party liability claim for employer negligence. 

Manufacturers of products are also required to follow laws and regulations pertinent to the safe use of chemicals. If they do not, and their defective and hazardous products injure users, they are legally liable for the damages to their victims. This also includes the manufacturers who knowingly put people’s health at risk by failing to disclose product risks.   

How Can I Pursue a Legal Claim?

A toxic exposure claim is always a challenge, but it is the only way you can garner a chemical exposure settlement to compensate you for your damages. You will not want to pursue one with representation by a toxic exposure attorney.   

This area of law is not practiced by every personal injury attorney because it is so challenging. You can see how difficult it will be for a smoker with diabetes, and a family history of colon cancer, to pursue a colon cancer liability claim against an employer for exposure to asbestos. Fortunately, attorneys like David C. Thompson aren’t intimidated by the challenge. 

Outside of a workers’ compensation claim, you will need to file a lawsuit against your employer or another source of exposure. Moreover, some exposure claims form the basis of class action lawsuits.   

What Damages Might I Recover in an Exposure Claim?

You can pursue economic damages, such as the cost of current and future medical treatment, income loss, a wrongful death claim, loss of financial support, and funeral expenses. You can also recover noneconomic damages, including pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and loss of guidance and companionship.   

David C. Thompson, P.C., Offers Experienced Advocacy

As a toxic exposure attorney for more than four decades, David C. Thompson has accumulated an incredible amount of legal knowledge, medical insight, evidentiary prowess, negotiating, and litigation skills in colon cancer claims arising from hazardous chemicals. He uses everything he has learned to vigorously advocate for every client he represents.

Don’t wait to find out if he can help you too. Call David C. Thompson, P.C. in Grand Forks, North Dakota, now.