A leading UK law firm has announced a small but significant rise in the number of bladder cancer case referrals. This recent phenomenon has resulted in the firm currently handling around 20 such cases, in a field where claims were almost unheard of until a few years ago. In what has proved to be a landmark judgment in Cookson v Novartis in 2007, the Court of Appeal ruled that exposure to some analine dyes can provide sufficient causation for a damages claim.
Former chemicals-sector workers, including those who worked in paint and rubber manufacture and with pigments and dyes, may be at increased risk due to exposure to carcinogenic toxins in the workplace.
"My fear is that workers will develop cancers and be unaware that they related to their past employment" said Pauline Chandler of law firm Pannone, who specialise in this area.
In a recent case, a 62-year old laboratory technician received an out-of-court settlement after contracting bladder cancer. His lawyers had argued that exposure to chemicals such as dichlorobenzidine, dimethoxybenzidine and nitro-biphenyl used in the manufacture of paints, inks and plastics had increased his risk of contracting the life-threatening disease. This was despite the fact that the exposure to the chemicals had occurred several decades previously.
Health and safety practices were almost certainly not as strict then as they are today, with some workers claiming that gloves were often not worn and exposure to toxic fumes was commonplace.
Lawyers acting in these cases are now warning that this small outbreak of potentially fatal cancers could in fact be the tip of the iceberg. Some are drawing parallels with the cases of workers exposed to asbestos fibres in the 1970s who then went on to develop fatal lung plaques many years later.
Cases of bladder cancer are currently in decline in the UK. However with around 10,000 new cases diagnosed each year, it is the fourth most common cancer in men. Anyone who suspects that an injury or illness may have been caused by unlawful exposure to harmful substances at work are advised to contact a specialist solicitor for legal advice.
Read more on the story (The Guardian)
Read about bladder cancer incidence rates (Cancer Research)
Find local personal injury solicitors throughout the UK (FindLaw)