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Pentachlorophenol Exposure Connected to Multiple Myeloma


What is Pentachlorophenol?

Bronx workers' compensation attorneyPentachlorophenol is a toxic compound that is typically used as pesticide and a disinfectant. In 1936, Pentachlorophenol became commonly used as a wood preserver because it was found to be effective at preventing wood rot and insect damage. Over the years it has been an ingredient in many other industrial products as well, including paints, adhesives, canvas, rope, and insulation, among other uses.

It remained widely used by both public and industrial companies until 1984, when Pentachlorophenol was restricted to only industrial uses after it was no longer deemed safe for public usage. Reports in recent years have shown that there is a positive correlation between Pentachlorophenol exposure and developing certain cancers, including multiple myeloma and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Though it was no longer available for the public to use, this toxic chemical was still used in the wood manufacturing and other industries. However, after 1984, any item or product containing Pentachlorophenol needed to have a warning label warning of its toxicity. To this day, Pentachlorophenol still exists on many utility poles, railroad crossties and fence posts, among other things. That means that electricians and others who regularly come in contact with utility poles and fence posts have an elevated risk of contracting cancers such as multiple myeloma and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma as a result of continued exposure to this chemical.

What is Multiple Myeloma?

Multiple myeloma is a type of cancer that originates from the plasma cells found in bone marrow. It is sometimes confused with leukemia. The difference between myeloma and leukemia comes down to the type of cells where the cancer originates. With myeloma, plasma cells within the bone marrow become infected and reproduce. Leukemia more commonly originates from the white blood cells, or leukocytes, that can also be found in bone marrow.

What is Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma?

As with leukemia, Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma also originates from white blood cells but from leukocytes in the lymph nodes, not the bone marrow.

Pentachlorophenol is a Group B carcinogen.

The Environmental Protection Agency classifies Pentachlorophenol as a Group B carcinogen. This means that there have been sufficient studies that have shown a probable correlation between Pentachlorophenol and some cancers, including multiple myeloma and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. To qualify as a Group B substance, there must be substantial proof of the substance causing cancer in animal test subjects as well as proof of a possible correlation to cancer growth in humans.

It is the responsibility of the Environmental Protection Agency and other like organizations to protect the health and safety of the people in this country. When it is shown that a chemical has extreme adverse effects on our health, it is their job to restrict and, if necessary, ban the substance.

Exposure to pentachlorophenol has been linked to cancer in numerous cases in humans and overwhelmingly among animal test subjects. Yet, despite evidence of a possible link between Pentachlorophenol and certain cancers, including multiple myeloma and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, the chemical is still used in industrial settings.

According to, as recently as 2008 the EPA reviewed Pentachlorophenol and concluded that it was reconsidering placing a ban on the substance because it "contribute(s) benefits to society." Despite the inherent risks and carcinogenic nature of pentachlorophenol, because is effective as a fungicide and wood preserver and because it is so commonly used across many industries, the EPA is reluctant to ban it, even though the consequence of using the substance is an elevated risk of cancer for all who come in contact with Pentachlorophenol.

If you have been diagnosed with cancer and believe you may have been exposed to pentachlorophenol, contact us today.

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