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The Coming Wave of Benzene Litigation ? ‚ the production of cumene, cyclohexane,...

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  • The Coming Wave ofThe Coming Wave ofBenzene Litigation Benzene Litigation

    Schirrmeister Diaz-Arrastia Brem, L.L.P.Pennzoil Place North Tower700 Milam 10th FloorHouston, Texas 77002713.221.2500www.sdablaw.comacs @ sdablaw.com

    Andrew Schirrmeister

    Bob Flora

    National Association of Railroad Trial CounselSpecial Litigation Conference XVIII

    February 7-8, 2008Lake Tahoe, California

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    Aggressive Benzene AdvertisingAggressive Benzene Advertising

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    Railroads Are Being TargetedRailroads Are Being TargetedAttorney advertisements directed at the railroad industry

    If you are a railroad worker who has suffered the effects of benzene through solvent or other exposure, you may be entitled to compensation

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    Railroads Are Being TargetedRailroads Are Being TargetedAttorney advertisements directed at the railroad industry

    Certain industry workers, especially railroad workers, may be exposed to high levels of benzene and benzene-containing products

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    Benzene and Hydrocarbons:Benzene and Hydrocarbons:The BasicsThe Basics

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    Benzene and Hydrocarbons: The BasicsBenzene and Hydrocarbons: The Basics~2-3 billion gallons of isolated or pure benzene is produced yearly in the United States: this pure benzene is consumed as a chemical feedstock for the production of

    cumene, cyclohexane, ethylbenzene, nitrobenzenes, and other chemical intermediates.

    Modern Product Uses: Benzene has not been used as an industrial solvent for decades, and it is not used as an ingredient in consumer products

    Minor constituent in some petroleum fuelsUnleaded automobile gasoline generally has a benzene content of about 1%Heavier fuels such as jet fuel, kerosene, and diesel fuel have much less benzene content, generally less than 0.02%

    Since the benzene rule has been applied, consumer product raw materials are limited to less than 0.01% benzene: even this trace amount of benzene is unlikely to be present

    American Chemistry Council. 2006. Voluntary Childrens Chemical Evaluation Program (VCCEP) Tier 1 Pilot Submission for Benzene. Docket Number OPPTS-00274D. ACC Benzene, Toluene, and Xylenes VCCEP Consortium. March.

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    Benzene and Hydrocarbons: The BasicsBenzene and Hydrocarbons: The BasicsBenzene is ubiquitous in urban areasBenzene relationship to other aromatic hydrocarbonsProcesses used to make benzene are shown below:

    American Chemistry Council. 2006. VCCEP Tier 1 Pilot Submission for Benzene. Docket Number OPPTS-00274D. ACC Benzene, Toluene, and Xylenes VCCEP Consortium. March.

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    Benzene is Found EverywhereBenzene is Found EverywhereSolvents

    Industrial emissions

    Automotive exhaust

    Gasoline

    Household cleaners

    Drinking water

    Food

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    Region 9 Human ExposureRegion 9 Human Exposure

    EPA Region 9 1996 Estimated County Median Exposure Concentration of Benzene

    Source: US EPA/QAQPS

    NATA NationalScale Air Toxics Assessment

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    Railroad Benzene Exposure

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    Railroad Worker Potential ExposureRailroad Worker Potential ExposureTransportation of benzene and aromatic hydrocarbon solvents

    Vapors from leaks and leaking valvesLoading/unloading

    Use of solvents and degreasers, including benzenePaintingVapors from gasoline, diesel, and other fuelsAccidents and spillsVapors emanating from past spills in the yardVapors permeating the yard

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    Others With Potential ExposureOthers With Potential ExposureWorkers in Plants and Refineries

    Exposure from rail cars being transported to the plantLoading/unloading

    Residents Living Adjacent to YardsVapors migrating into homesGround contamination migration

    Residents Affected by Accidents and SpillsTrain accident spilling benzene

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    The Diseases

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    The DiseasesThe DiseasesAcute Myelogenous LeukemiaChronic Myelogenous LeukemiaAcute Lymphocytic LeukemiaChronic Lymphocytic LeukemiaNon-Hodgkins LymphomaMultiple MyelomaAplastic AnemiaMyelodysplastic SyndromesOther leukemias, other blood diseases, other cancers

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    Disease ComparisonDisease Comparison

    Source: National Cancer Institute

    SEER Cancer Statistics

    0.15% (1 in 668)

    0.12% (1 in 838)

    0.45% (1 in 221)

    0.61% (1 in 165)

    2.02% (1 in 50)

    0.37% (1 in 272)

    Lifetime risk

    47.5%64.0%74.2%33.7%63.4%21.2%Five-year survival rate

    0.5 per 100,000

    0.5 per 100,000

    1.5 per 100,000

    3.7 per 100,000

    7.6 per 100,000

    2.7 per 100,000

    Age-adjusted death rate

    1.5 per 100,000

    1.6 per 100,000

    3.9 per 100,000

    5.6 per 100,000

    19.3 per 100,000

    3.6 per 100,000

    Age-adjusted incidence rate

    4901,4204,50010,79018,6608,990Estimated deaths 2007

    4,5705,20015,34019,90063,19013,410Estimated new cases 2007

    CMLALLCLLMMNHLAML

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    Leukemia/Lymphoma ComparisonLeukemia/Lymphoma Comparison

    2.24% (1 in 45)1.26% (1 in 79)Lifetime risk

    66.8%49.6%Five-year survival rate

    8.1 per 100,0007.5 per 100,000Age-adjusted death rate

    22.0 per 100,00012.3 per 100,000Age-adjusted incidence rate

    19,73021,790Estimated deaths 2007

    71,38044,240Estimated new cases 2007

    All LymphomaAll Leukemia

    Source: National Cancer Institute

    SEER Cancer Statistics

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    Proliferation of Benzene LawsuitsProliferation of Benzene Lawsuits

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    Driving Forces Behind Benzene CasesDriving Forces Behind Benzene CasesThe asbestos well is drying up

    BankruptciesTort Reform

    Early knowledge of benzene toxicityBlood diseases are abundantEndless number of potential defendantsEndless number of potential productsWell developed body of plaintiffs experts and literatureSignificant economic damagesPast lucrative verdicts and settlements

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    Benzene Cases IncreasingBenzene Cases IncreasingTort reform is limiting asbestos cases

    Most benzene lawyers are former asbestos lawyersAttempts to fit benzene into asbestos model

    Generic product identificationShallow expert testimonyExpensive discoverySettlement

    Broad range of diseaseAll leukemias, non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, Multiple MyelomaOther diseases such as MDS and aplastic anemia

    Broad range of potential products and defendantsAromatic hydrocarbon solvents in widespread usage

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    Any Exposure Can Cause DiseaseAny Exposure Can Cause Disease

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    No Safe Level TheoryNo Safe Level TheoryBased on Theory That Any Benzene Causes Cancer

    No safe level

    One molecule theory

    Hydrocarbon solvents allegedly contaminated with trace benzene

    Refining technology cannot ensure 100% benzene free solvents

    Federal government permits up to 0.1% benzene

    Potentially Unlimited Number of ProductsAny product that has a hydrocarbon solvent

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    No Safe LevelNo Safe LevelPeter Infante, Dr.P.H., D.D.S.

    George Washington University25 years with OSHA, 3 years with NIOSHAuthor of Pliofilm studies, on which OSHA Benzene Standard was based

    No safe levelQ Every level above zero contributes to the development of AML?A Yes.

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    No Safe LevelNo Safe LevelMyron Mehlman, Ph.D.

    Former Head of Toxicology at MobilAdjunct Professor of Environmental and Community Medicine at UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical SchoolAdjunct Professor of Medicine at the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in New York Adjunct Professor of Environmental Toxicology PCMH at University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston

    No Safe LevelQ. And you believe theres no safe level of exposure to benzene?A. Yes.

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    No Safe LevelNo Safe LevelMartyn Smith, PhD

    University of California at BerkeleyProfessor of ToxicologyDeputy Head, Division of Environmental Science

    No Safe LevelQ. With regard to exposure of one part benzene in the air for 12 hours, can it cause AML?A. Its likely to be a significant contributor to the AML.A. We see hematological changes in people at less than one part per millionQ. And not all doses can cause an injury?A. That assumes there is a safe dose. For benzene Ive stated I dont think there is a safe dose.Q. Under any circumstances?A. Under any circumstances.

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    One Molecule TheoryOne Molecule TheoryBernie Goldstein, M.D.

    University of Pittsburgh School of Public HealthBoard certified in hematology, toxicology, internal medicine

    One molecule theoryQ At what level of benzene exposure do you believe increases one's risk of acquiring AML?A Again, I mean, if it's just

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