Our firm is well-known for its handling of complex chemical-related cancers and disease cases.  These claims can be filed as workers’ compensation claims, civil claims against the manufacturer or distributor of the dangerous chemical products, or both.  Establishing medical causation and exposure requires specialized legal knowledge and experience.  Our firm has been handling complex chemical-related cases for nearly its entire 40 years of practice.  These claims are often expensive and difficult to try in court, as they involve medical and other necessary experts.


Below are the various cancers that have known associations with certain industries and workplace exposures. The list below is a nonexclusive list.  The science is evolving and there may be other important information not included in this list.  Again, please contact our firm or another experienced attorney for additional information.


  • Lung cancer
  • Bladder cancer
  • Skin cancer
  • Nasal, sinus cancer
  • Stomach cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Brain cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Bone cancer
  • Leukemia 
  • Lymphoma



Does exposure to chemicals or solvents in the workplace cause cancer?

Unfortunately, cancer can develop without a known reason or cause.  There are many chemicals and solvents used in industrial settings and most of them do not cause any harm or disease.  Some chemicals and solvents, however, have been associated with certain cancers.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides a list of substances NIOSH considers to be potential occupational carcinogens.  For example, benzene and certain products that contain benzene have been causally associated with the development of leukemia.  Ethylene oxide has also been associated with leukemia.  Workers exposed to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and coal tar pitch in the aluminum production and coal gasification industries have been associated with bladder cancer, kidney, lung cancers, and others.  If you worked with or around chemicals or solvents in the workplace and believe those chemicals or solvents may have caused your cancer, you should contact an attorney to get more information.    

What options do I have if I was exposed to harmful chemicals or solvents in the workplace?

That depends on what types of chemicals and solvents you were exposed to and whether those substances have been causally associated with causing disease or cancer.  Generally speaking, if your disease or cancer was caused by occupational exposures, you may have a couple of options.  The first may be to file a workers’ compensation claim against your employer or former employer where the occupational exposures occurred.  A second option may be to file a civil lawsuit against the manufactures of the substances to which you were exposed.  Whether either option is a possibility depends on the facts and circumstances in your particular case.  To find out whether you have the right to file a workers’ compensation claim or civil lawsuit, you should consult with an attorney. 

What types of work exposures cause bladder cancer?

Bladder cancer accounts for about 5% of all new cancers in the US. It is the fourth most common cancer in men, but is less common in women.

Bladder cancers have been linked to jobs in many industries that use certain chemicals.

The chemicals most often linked to the development of bladder cancer include chemicals referred to as called aromatic amines, such as benzidine and beta-naphthylamine, often used in the dye industries.

Workers in industries that use some organic chemicals also may have a higher risk of developing bladder cancer. 

Reports of bladder cancers are increased amongst workers in the following occupations and industries:


  • Aluminum industry
  • Work around coal tar, coal tar pitch, coke production, coke ovens, and coal gasification
  • Painters, work with paint products
  • Dyeing, working with dyes
  • Leather industry
  • Textile industry
  • Work around arsenic (working in mining, copper smelting, pesticide production)
  • Chemical plants, petroleum workers
  • Pipefitters, plumbers
  • Painters, house painting, work with paint products
  • Rubber manufacturing industry, tire curing


Cigarette smoking can also cause bladder cancer, especially when combined with exposure to certain chemicals.  According to the American Cancer Society, “smoking and workplace exposures can act together to cause bladder cancer.”

This information is not intended to diagnose or give medical advice.  Please consult with a medical professional to discuss any health concerns you may have.

What types of work exposures cause kidney cancer?


The kidneys function as an extraction and exchange system for the body. The two bean-shaped organs are located on each side of the body, sitting against the back muscles in the upper abdominal cavity, and are responsible for extracting waste from blood, balancing body fluids, forming urine, and aiding in other important bodily functions required to process substances and chemicals that enter the body.  As a result, impairment of one or both kidneys, from an illness or disease, like kidney cancer, can have devastating consequences, including death resulting from loss (or complete shutdown) of function from both organs.


Kidney cancer, also called renal cell cancer or renal adenocarcinoma, is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells are found in the lining of tubules (very small tubes) in the kidney.


Cases of kidney cancer related to on the job exposure to dangerous substances and chemicals have been reported in various industries:

  • Employees in the aluminum industry
  • Employees that utilized “TCE” (trichloroethylene)
  • Employees that utilized “PCE” (perchloroethylene)
  • Employees in the steel industry, especially those working on coke production or with coke ovens.
  • Workers exposed to arsenic and cadmium.

Generally, each case of toxic exposure depends on the facts. If you have kidney cancer and you believe you may have been exposed to a toxic chemical or other hazardous substance, it is important to protect your rights and should contact an experienced lawyer for legal advice on your situation.  

The attorneys at Wallace & Graham have over 30 years of experience helping individuals that have suffered health consequences as a result of an on-the-job exposures to hazardous chemical and other toxic substances.

This information is not intended to diagnose or give medical advice.  Please consult with a medical professional to discuss any health concerns you may have.

What types of work exposures cause blood cancers?

What is Multiple Myeloma? 

Multiple Myeloma is……..

  • A cancer of the blood
  • Affects plasma cells the white blood cells that produce antibodies, the warrior cells of the body's immune system.
  • Weakens the body's Immune System, bones and more.

Weakened Immunity leaves the body susceptible to infection and disease.

Multiple Myeloma cells commonly produce substances that cause bone destruction, leading to bone pain and/or fractures. 

How does Multiple Myeloma affect the body?


Myeloma affects the body’s immune system, impacting the body’s ability to fight off infection and disease by disrupting the normal production of antibodies.

When a person develops Myeloma, the invading cancer cells prevent the plasma cells from working correctly, impacting the normal production of antibodies, weakening the body's immune system and making the body more susceptible to infection and disease. 

SOURCES  From http://www.hematology.org

What type of workers or exposures are more likely to get myeloma? 

Workers, particularly those who have worked in power plants, rubber-manufacturing plants, furniture plants, paper mills, and others, are at a higher risk for developing multiple myeloma. 

Exposure to certain chemicals such as benzene and ethylene oxide (“E.O.”) can also increase one’s risk for developing multiple myeloma and other cancers. 

Some of the more common benzene-containing products workers have been exposed to are Liquid Wrench, Kutz-It, CRC products, Safety-Kleen parts washers, mineral spirits, paint thinners, diesel fuel, gasoline, and other solvents and oils.

This information is not intended to diagnose or give medical advice.  Please consult with a medical professional to discuss any health concerns you may have.

What types of work exposures cause respiratory, nasal, and sinus conditions?


The nasal and sinus system is exposed to any dangerous substances in the air we breathe, and acts as filtration for the respiratory system.

When the air we breathe contains a dangerous substance or chemical, our nasal and sinus system can be damaged. The resulting damage to the nasal or sinus system can be devastating, and can lead to the development of various diseases and illnesses, including the development of nasal or sinus cancer

Often, on-the-job or workplace exposure can occur in a variety of industries and can occur even though a worker is unaware of the potential hazards related to the job. 


Workers in certain industries and occupations have reported nasal and sinus system diseases and illnesses, including nasal and sinus cancers, including:

  • Work around leather dust (boot and shoe manufacture and repair)
  • Nickel refining
  • Work around wood dust (furniture and cabinet-making, carpenter, construction, logging and sawmill workers, pulp and paper and paperboard industry)
  • Workers exposed to formaldehyde (wood preservative, embalming fluid) 


The damage caused to the respiratory system following exposure to a hazardous substance can vary depending on certain factors, including:

  • Type of chemical or substance exposure
  • Duration (length of time) of the exposure
  • Frequency of Exposures (repeated exposure that occur over an extended period of time)

Much depends on the specific facts and so you should contact an experienced lawyer for legal advice on your situation.  

This information is not intended to diagnose or give medical advice.  Please consult with a medical professional to discuss any health concerns you may have.

What is coal tar pitch and what disease does it cause?

“Coal tar” or “coal tar pitch” is a substance commonly found in many industries that can cause serious health problems.  Wallace & Graham has extensive experience in handling coal tar pitch claims having filed numerous claims before the N.C. Industrial Commission and in civil courts around the U.S.   Many of these involved workers at the Alcoa facilities across the U.S. and in the steel industry.

Coal tar “is a thick, black or brown liquid that is a byproduct of the carbonization of coal for the steel industry or the gasification of coal to make coal gas. Coal tar is a byproduct of the coking of coal for the steel industry and coal-tar pitch is the residue remaining after the distillation of coal tar.” 

What is coal tar pitch used for, and in which industries?

Coal tar is often used in roofing and paving.  “The exposures associated with roofing are the result of two operations. First, the old roof is removed by cutting, prying and scraping the existing material from the roof, and discarding it. A new roof is then installed by melting solid blocks of coal-tar pitch, pumping or carrying buckets of the molten material to the roof, where layers of roofing felt and liquid coal-tar pitch are spread upon the surface to produce a cover (NIOSH, 2000; IPCS, 2004). Roofers are primarily exposed to PAHs. Other exposures include diesel exhaust, asbestos and organic solvents.”   

With regard to paving operations, “[c]oal-tar-based sealcoat products typically are 20 to 35 percent coal-tar pitch. Product analyses indicate that coal-tar-based sealcoat products contain about 1,000 times more PAHs than sealcoat products with an asphalt base (City of Austin, 2005).”  

Coal tar pitch also plays a prominent role in the aluminum manufacturing process.  Aluminum is produced by reducing alumina into molten aluminum through electrolysis.  This electrolysis process occurs in reduction cells, called pots, where alumina reacts with carbon anodes producing carbon dioxide and aluminum. 

The anode (or positive electrode) is a large block of carbon made from coke and coal tar pitch.  It is inserted in a steel box lined with carbon blocks made from metallurgical coke and coal tar pitch.  The lining of the pot is called the cathode (or negative electrode).  The pots use multiple anodes during electrolysis because the anodes are consumed and must be continuously replaced.  During electrolysis, the high temperatures applied to the anodes and cathodes result in the emission of coal tar pitch volatiles in the form of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). 


Workers in steel manufacturing, aluminum manufacturing, roofing, and paving industries are some of those most at risk of being exposed to coal tar pitch. For a free consultation call 800.849.5291 or email us, today! 

What types of cancer does coal tar pitch exposure cause?

Coal-tar pitch contains “50 percent or more polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) by weight and is known to cause cancer in humans (International Agency for Research on Cancer, 1980).”  The types of cancer include:  lung cancer, bladder cancer, skin cancer (non-melanoma), laryngeal cancer, and kidney cancer. 

What is W&G’s experience with coal tar pitch litigation?

Wallace & Graham has represented many working people who were exposed to coal tar pitch.  W&G has litigated a number of claims before the North Carolina Industrial Commission and in civil court.