Bladder cancer caused by industrial chemicals is a long latency disease. This means that there is a long time period between first exposure to the cancer-causing substance and the manifestation of the tumor. This is a critical concept to understand. Many workers mistakenly believe that if they didn’t develop bladder cancer while they were working and exposed to the chemical then they will never develop cancer.
Among the Goodyear workers in Niagara Falls, they have developed bladder cancer in as little as five years from first exposure to as many as fifty years from first exposure. But the average latency in the Goodyear workers, i.e., the time from first exposure to ortho-toluidine to a diagnosis of bladder cancer, is 30 years. For workers first exposed in 1990, we can expect that most bladder cancers will occur by 2020, but the risk of developing bladder cancer will still be present through year 2040.
With an average latency of 30 years, most workers will be at the highest risk of developing bladder cancer after they have left the exposed job, as a result of retirement, termination, or lay off.
During the 1990 collective bargaining negotiations with the Goodyear Niagara Falls plant for a new contract, OCAW Local 8-277 requested that the company expand its bladder cancer screening program for the current employees to include all retirees and former employees. In its response, Goodyear stated that it was "not interested" in extending its program to the retirees and former employees.
Consequently, the law firm of Steven H. Wodka filed a class action to provide for a medical monitoring program for the Goodyear retirees and former employees. In 1998, the case was settled, certified as a class action, and the settlement was approved by the United States District Court for the Western District of New York. The purpose of the Goodyear Bladder Cancer Screening Program is "to detect cases of bladder cancer at the earliest possible date. . .by the use of the most effective, accurate and sensitive medical tests and technology in order to increase the likelihood of successful treatment and cure."
The workers entitled to this program are:
All retired and former employees of The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company in Niagara Falls, New York, who were employed between January 1, 1957 and June 11, 1990 for more than 90 days in Department 245, in the Maintenance Department, as a janitor, in the Laboratory and Laboratory QC (Department 104), in the Yard (Department 191), and/or in Shipping (Department 121), and who were exposed to ortho-toluidine or aniline in the course of their job duties, and who have not been diagnosed with bladder cancer. This class shall also include current Goodyear employees, who otherwise meet the criteria of this class definition,
when they either retire or leave the employment of Goodyear.
At the Morton International chemical plant in Paterson, New Jersey, ortho-toluidine was also used in large quantities to manufactures dyes. In 1991, NIOSH surveyed the plant and determined that the workers were receiving significant exposure to ortho-toluidine. A number of workers have been diagnosed with bladder cancer. A request was made to the company (by then, owned by Rohm and Haas), to extend the medical monitoring for the current workers to include all retirees and former employees. Rohm and Haas refused.
The law firm of Steven H. Wodka filed a class action to provide for a medical monitoring program for the Morton (then Rohm and Haas, today Dow Chemical) retirees and former employees. In 2001, the case was settled, certified as a class action, and the settlement was approved by the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery-Equity Division, Passaic County.
The Paterson Plant Bladder Cancer Screening Program has the same purpose as the Goodyear program. But the Paterson Program also contains Dow Chemical's agreement, for all cases of bladder cancer detected by the program, that the company will admit, for the purpose of workers’ compensation benefits, that the bladder cancer was caused by exposure at the plant. Accordingly, Dow then pays for "all reasonable medical expenses for care and treatment causally related to the bladder cancer."
The workers entitled to this program and its benefits are:
All retired and former employees of Rohm and Haas, Morton International, and/or Patent Chemical in Paterson, New Jersey who were employed for more than 30 days between January 1, 1946 and December 31, 2000. The eligible group includes the current Rohm and Haas employees, who otherwise meet this criteria, once they either retire or leave the employment of Rohm and Haas.
The full court-approved agreement to provide the Morton workers with free, lifetime medical monitoring program for the early detection of bladder cancer can be found here.
In the court orders approving the class action settlements for both the Goodyear and Morton workers, Steven H. Wodka was appointed as counsel for both plaintiff classes and was provided with certain rights to oversee the implementation of these programs.
Both programs are professionally run and are fulfilling their purpose to detect cases of bladder cancer in these workers at the earliest possible date.
For example, Dr. Thomas John Bender, Dow Chemical’s Associate Health Services Director, who is in charge of the Paterson program:
• tracks the vital status of all eligible workers;
• maintains a current mailing list; and has
• issued comprehensive information to the eligible workers on their risk of developing bladder cancer, including a diagram of the Paterson plant indicating where the bladder cancer causing chemicals were used.
Dr. Bender’s July, 2017 Report to the eligible workers, which includes a summary of the program’s activity for 2016, can be found here.
If you are eligible to participate in these programs, I strongly encourage you to do so. You have everything to gain and nothing to lose. Please contact me if you would like to enroll in these programs and receive this free testing.
Medical Monitoring for the Early Detection of Bladder Cancer
Four Easy Steps
for Collecting a Sample
for the Paterson Plant
Bladder Screening Program
Complete Lab Slip
Prepare for Shipment
Ship to Lab; Call the toll free FEDEX number for pick up at your home
Detailed instructions for submitting a sample under the Paterson Plant Bladder Cancer Screening Program can be found here.