Railway workers: diesel exhaust can lead to respiratory illness

Not only is railroad work hard work, but railway employees can be injured on the job in so many different ways.  Some types of rail injuries are straightforward: broken bones or head trauma from a fall, or contusions or serious body trauma from a collision.  But other injuries aren’t as obvious.


Since the 1960’s, the majority of locomotives in the United States have been powered by diesel fuel.  While this change offered many advantages over the previous generation of coal-powered engines, the use of diesel fuel has lead to a major problem for rail workers and their lungs: diesel exhaust.


Why diesel exhaust is dangerous


Railway workers are often exposed to diesel exhaust, and many breathe it in every day that they work.  Why is this a problem?  Diesel exhaust contains around forty different toxic substances, more than are found in gasoline.  In fact, diesel exhaust is so dangerous that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has classified it as a likely human carcinogen (cancer causing agent).


Toxins in diesel exhaust include arsenic, benzene, formaldehyde, cyanide, dioxin, ammonia – and much more.  Not only can some of these substances lead to or aggravate respiratory problems, but they can also cause lung, kidney, or nervous system damage as well as skin and eye irritation, cancer, and reproductive problems.


Respiratory problems from diesel exhaust


Diesel exhaust contains many particles, some that can’t be seen by the naked eye.  Railway workers inhale these particles, and some of the tiniest ones can lodge deep in a worker’s lungs, leading to a variety of diseases as the worker continues to breathe in diesel-tainted air.


After years of exposure to diesel exhaust and other hazardous substances, rail workers can suffer from a variety of respiratory ailments.  Some of these include asthma, COPD, lung injury, cancer, and emphysema – all because of toxic air that rail workers breathe while on the job.


If you suspect that you are suffering from breathing or other respiratory problems because of work you perform for the railroad, then you should talk to a lawyer about securing compensation.  Since rail workers aren’t covered by workers’ compensation, they must file a FELA lawsuit to get money for work-related injuries.


Please don’t leave yourself at the mercy of the railroad and their insurance company or representatives.  To get honest help with your railroad injury case, contact the attorneys at the Houston based law firm of VB Attorneys.



Vuk Stevan Vujasinovic
Experienced Injury Lawyer. First Generation American. Life-Long Texan. Husband. Father.