Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a terrible and fatal disease. While the exact causes of ALS are unknown, a recent study conducted by researchers at Harvard University indicates that long-term exposure to diesel exhaust substantially increases ALS risk in males. Early signs of ALS are subtle. If you experience any of the following symptoms, which continue to worsen over time, see a doctor as soon as possible.
- Slurred speech
- Muscle twitching
- Problems chewing and swallowing
- Stiff, tight muscles
- Muscle cramping
- Muscle weakness in the arms, legs, chest, or neck
As symptoms worsen, the affected person can no longer walk, speak, or consume food normally, breathing becomes more difficult, and using the hands or feet becomes impossible. Certain patients develop severe nerve pain. While there is no cure, there are treatments available that can lessen symptoms and give patients a better quality of life. In addition to medication, such treatments include physical and speech therapy and nutritional care.
ALS is especially cruel as patients retain their mental faculties until close to death. That means they are fully aware of their deterioration. Most ALS victims will succumb within five years of diagnosis, although about 10 percent may survive a decade or more. The primary cause of death for ALS patients is respiratory failure.
ALS and Diesel Exposure
The study shows that males with a history of exposure to diesel exhaust as part of their job for a minimum of 10 years had a 20 percent greater incidence of developing ALS than men whose work did not include such exposure. Overall, the longer someone was exposed to diesel as part of their employment, the more likely they were to develop ALS. Industries where workers have a higher than average exposure to diesel fumes include:
- Oil and gas
- Bridge and tunnel construction and repair
- Loading dock operations
- Heavy equipment operation
- Materials handling
The study focused on approximately 1,600 Danish patients diagnosed with ALS between 1982 and 2013. The average age at diagnosis was 56. The researchers used a control group of non-ALS male patients of the same age. They examined the occupational history of both groups to estimate diesel exposure.
ALS and the Military
Members of the armed forces are also exposed to elevated levels of diesel fumes. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, military veterans are twice as likely to develop ALS than their civilian counterparts. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs recognizes ALS as a service-related disease.
Cherry Hill Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at DiTomaso Law Advocate for Injured Workers
If you or a loved one has developed ALS or became sick because of exposure to toxic materials at work, you need the services of the experienced Cherry Hill Workers’ Compensation lawyers at DiTomaso Law. Call us at 856-414-0010 or contact us online. We are in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, and we proudly serve clients from the surrounding areas.