This case involves an industrial building that allegedly contributed to a host of ailments and cancers for a group of individuals working there. 7 years before the case was filed, the building in question was used as a pottery manufacturing and storage facility. The building was eventually turned into office spaces that were available for rent. 15 individuals working in the same department of the building in question developed numerous types of cancer, including bone marrow, brain, appendix, triple negative breast cancer, and others. An expert in medical toxicology was sought to help determine if there could be a causative link between residual chemicals in the building (possibly lead or black mold) and the various forms of cancer present in the plaintiffs.
Question(s) For Expert Witness
- 1. Please briefly describe your experience linking environmental causative factors to various forms of cancer.
- 2. Are you familiar at all with how pottery manufacturing and/or storage could cause cancer? What information would you require to help determine this?
Expert Witness Response E-027933
I am an occupational medicine physician and medical toxicologist holding a Ph.D. in environmental toxicology. I have overseen multiple similar cluster investigations and have some minimal experience and knowledge of the ceramics industry. Pottery manufacturing is a process typically requiring numerous hazardous materials (mostly heavy metals, but also some light and heavy organic compounds) for the creation of various coloring, texture and lucency effects. Hazardous exposure of individuals to these in a remodeled building that was previously used as a pottery factory is unlikely but not out of the question. Such an allegation could be easily supported by a minimal industrial hygiene assessment of the facility. A further complication for making the case of causation is presented by the multiplicity of health effects reported: “15 individuals working in the same department of the building in question developed numerous types of cancer, including bone marrow, brain, appendix, triple negative breast cancer, and others.” In reality, each type of cancer is an individual and separate disease with different mechanisms leading to its origin. That said, the overall biochemical alterations that are common to cancer initiation may be instituted by some chemical substances often associated with pottery making. The fact that these illnesses are mostly limited to a single department is intriguing in that regard.