What Is Benzene?
Benzene is an aromatic hydrocarbon that is produced by the burning of natural products. It is a clear, colorless, noncorrosive and highly flammable liquid with a strong odor. Benzene is a component of products derived from coal and petroleum, and is found in motor fuels. It is also used as a solvent for fats, waxes, resins, oils, inks, paints, plastics and rubber, as well as in the extraction of oils from seeds and nuts, and in photogravure printing.
Benzene is used as a chemical intermediate in detergents, explosives, and pharmaceuticals. It has also been used as an ingredient in commercial products such as dental adhesives and cigarettes. For information on a recent FDA study of benzene in soft drinks and juices, please click here.
Benzene is easily absorbed into the bloodstream through the inhalation of vapors and mist. It can also be absorbed through your skin and into your bloodstream when in contact with a person’s body. Individuals employed in industries that manufacture or use benzene, such as gasoline distribution workers, laborers, pipe fitters, refinery workers and those involved in the servicing of underground fuel tanks, are at risk of exposure to some of the highest levels of benzene.
In addition, the general public can be exposed to elevated levels of benzene in contaminated drinking water and in the air due to emissions from burning coal and oil, motor vehicle exhaust, and evaporation from gasoline service stations and in industrial solvents.
Risks of Benzene Exposure
Research has shown benzene to cause cancer and central nervous system toxicity. It is classified as a “Category A” human carcinogen under the EPA Risk Assessment Guidelines of 1986. Studies have linked benzene exposure to certain forms of leukemia, a malignant disease that affects the blood and bone marrow. The four major types of leukemia to which it is causally related are:
- Acute myelogenous leukemia (AML)
- Acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL)
- Chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML)
- Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL)
Symptoms of the disease are very similar to the flu and include:
- Abnormal bleeding
- Excessive bruising
- Weight loss
- Bone or joint pain
- Infection and fever
- Abdominal pain or “fullness”
- Enlarged spleen, lymph nodes, and liver
Individuals with exposure to benzene of less than 5 years have developed one of the varied types of leukemia and displayed these symptoms.
If you believe that you or a loved one has been exposed to benzene, and have developed leukemia, Hodgkin’s disease, aplastic anemia or lymphoma, please contact us as you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries.