Coke is manufactured by heating coal to very high temperatures in a large refractory oven, known as a coke oven. The emissions produced during the coking process contain a mixture of complex and toxic particles, including vapors, coal particles, gasses, tars and other carcinogenic substances. Exposure to coke oven emissions is a cause of lung, skin and other cancers.
Laborers who worked on top of or alongside coke oven batteries are at a substantially increased risk for developing lung cancer. Two coke oven occupations most heavily exposed to coke oven emissions are the lidman and larry car driver. These men were exposed to large quantities of fumes, dust and vapors containing carcinogenic compounds, including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH). During an eight hour shift, it was typical for one lid man to work on seventeen or eighteen ovens, spending at least fifteen minutes on top of each oven. The lid man’s job was one of the dirtiest jobs at any steel plant.
Coke ovens also presented a risk for exposure to asbestos due to the asbestos-containing refractory and insulating materials used to maintain operations. Asbestos exposure can cause mesothelioma, lung cancer and other cancers.
If you or any of your family members worked at any of the various coke oven operations around the Western New York, including Bethlehem Steel, Semet-Solvay a.k.a. Tonawanda Coke or Donner Hanna, and if you are suffering from lung or other cancers, please contact us to discuss a potential legal claim. Our services include lawsuits against manufacturers and claims under the New York State Workers’ Compensation Law.