Pleural mesothelioma, or cancer in the lining of the lungs, has caused the deaths of over 23,000 people in the eight-year period from 1999-2007 in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”). The majority of individuals suffer from mesothelioma due to occupational, i.e., work-related asbestos exposure. Asbestos was widely used in the railroad industry in steam locomotives, diesel locomotives, brakeshoes, steam generators, railroad boilers, pipe insulation, cabooses, roundhouses, diesel repair facilities, and elsewhere. Therefore, many railroad workers suffer from mesothelioma.

A 2011 study indicates that exposure to asbestos causes mesothelioma and that there is no safe threshold of exposure to asbestos. According to one study, it is “universally accepted” that the exposure needed to contract mesothelioma is less than that required for asbestosis, a condition where scar tissue forms inside the lungs due to breathing in asbestos. Many of the government agencies who study toxins, occupational health or cancer also agree that there is no “safe” level of asbestos exposure – any amount of asbestos can cause devastating consequences to a person’s health.

Other studies have shown that even very low levels of exposure to asbestos can result in mesothelioma. Furthermore, not only can a person contract mesothelioma from a low dose exposure to asbestos, but mesothelioma also has a rapid lethality associated with it once it develops. According to the American Cancer Society (“ACS”), a person suffering from mesothelioma can typically expect to live anywhere between 4 and 18 months from the day of diagnosis. Unfortunately, the ACS also notes that the risk for developing mesothelioma does not end when the exposure to asbestos ends, but it is a lifelong risk. Mesothelioma will then appear, the ACS indicates, many years after the initial asbestos exposure.

If you are a current or former railroad worker who has been diagnosed with mesothelioma or lung cancer, please contact us to speak with a railroad cancer lawyer for information about your legal rights under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act.


Marcel Goldberg & Daniele Luce, Can Exposure to Very Low Levels of Asbestos Induce Pleural Mesothelioma?, 172 Am. J. Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine 939, 939 (2005).

Marty S. Kanarek, Mesothelioma from Chrysotile Asbestos: Update, 21 Annals Epidemiology 688, 688 (2011).

M.R. Orenstein & M.B. Schenker, Environmental Asbestos Exposure and Mesothelioma, 6 Current Opinion in Pulmonary Medicine 371 (2000).

Goldberg & Luce, supra note 1; Gunnar Hillerdal, Mesothelioma: Cases Associated with Non-Occupational and Low Dose Exposures, 56 Occupational & Environmental Medicine 505, 510 (1999)

Y. Iwatsubo, et al., Pleural Mesothelioma: Dose-Response Relation at Low Levels of Asbestos Exposure in a French Population-based Case-Control Study, 148 Am. J. Epidemiology 133, 140 (1998).