Reactions to Benzene
Benzene is a clear, highly flammable, aromatic liquid that is used as a building block for making synthetic fabrics (like nylon and polyester), rubber, resin, paints, plastics, pesticides, detergents and is a vapor emitted from gasoline. Approximately 300,000 people who work in the industries which manufacture these products are exposed to benzene in the workplace every year. Benzene may also be present in drinking water and is produced during the coking process in coal mining. The reactions to benzene in humans can cause serious adverse affects , therefore the government places limits on the amount of benzene one can be exposed to at safe levels.
Benzene is a carcinogen, known to cause Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma, Myelocytic Leukemia, and Lymphocytic Leukemia. Because the reactions of benzene can be so severe, the Environmental Protection Agency and other government organizations have placed limits on the amount of benzene exposure that is considered safe. In 1974 the government passed the Safe Water Drinking Act which established the Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs) for potentially harmful chemicals found in drinking water. The MCL for benzene in drinking water is five parts per billion. If levels are found to exceed this limit, the system requires that the public be notified through the mass media that their drinking water may have potentially harmful levels of benzene. OSHA sets levels of exposure to benzene in the workplace at one part per million in the air for an eight hour day and at five parts per million for short-term exposure.
The primary routes of exposure to benzene, and the potentially health threatening reactions of benzene, include inhalation of contaminated air, drinking contaminated water, and being in close vicinity to high traffic areas and gas stations. The reactions to benzene cause suppression of the autoimmune system and central nervous system problems. Reactions to benzene vary depending on the extent and length of benzene exposure.
The acute or short term reactions to benzene are: irritation of the eyes, skin, nose or throat, dizziness, headache, vomiting, rapid heart beat, depression, and possibly convulsions, coma, and sudden death. The chronic or long-term adverse reactions to benzene include reproductive harm, drying or scaling of the skin, anemia (damage to the blood cells), chromosome aberrations, and several types of leukemia. The most common form of leukemia that is caused by reactions to benzene is Acute Myelogenous Leukemia.
It is possible for the physical reactions to benzene exposure to manifest almost immediately or its effects may not be detectable for many years. If you work in an environment where you are potentially exposed to dangerous levels of toxic benzene and have developed any of the physical reactions to benzene, you may wish to speak to a lawyer who can help determine your eligibility to file a claim seeking compensation for your injuries. The manufacturers of benzene-containing products can be held responsible for the reactions to benzene at harmful levels.