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Benzene Facts

The federal Hazard Communication Standard requires that every chemical company that supplies a chemical product to your employer provide them with a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS). The MSDS must identify all the hazardous
ingredients in the product, with exception to trade secrets.

Amounts as little of one cup of benzene evaporated in an area as large as a football field size building is 3.3 times the OSHA standard, 6.6 times the ACGIH standard, and 33 times the NIOSH standard.

Millions of workers may be exposed to benzene in the U.S. every year,
estimated at more than 3 million workers.

The EPA estimated that 50% of the U.S. population has been exposed to benzene by industrial sources, including oil refineries and chemical plants.

Gasoline fumes have 1,000 times the concentration of benzene recommended by NIOSH.

Benzene Found in Cigarettes Responsible for Acute Myeloid Leukemia Deaths!

University of North Carolina Chapel Hill studies assessed the proportion of all types of leukemia and acute myeloid leukemia that is attributable to benzene in cigarette smoke. The researchers calculated that benzene is responsible for 8-48% of all smoking-induced leukemia deaths, as well as 12-58% of all smoking induced acute myelogenous leukemia.

Other studies have concluded that benzene is most strongly associated with acute myelogenous leukemia. Benzene exposure affects industrial workers 10-100 times greater than smokers. OSHA and the EPA have set workplace benzene standards but the number of at risk benzene workers continues to remain high.


Benzene Risks






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Benzene poses the greatest risk to workers using petroleum solvents containing benzene. Although using benzene in the U.S. as a solvent has been banned for many years now, workers using solvents continue to be exposed to benzene because it is still present in some degree in most petroleum solvents. The workers can develop benzene poisoning through inhalation of the vapors evaporating from the solvent and by absorbing it through their skin by handling materials soaked with the solvents.

The consequences of exposure to benzene can be deadly. Benzene has been shown to cause rare forms of leukemia, including acute myelogenous leukemia, acute lympohcytic leukemia, and chronic myelogenous leukemia. Contacting our experienced and proven benzene attorneys can allow you to collect compensation for the potentially fatal health conditions that benzene is known to cause.

Workers at Risk For Exposure to Benzene:

  • Painters
  • Chemical workers
  • Gasoline distribution workers
  • Refinery workers
  • Shoe/leather workers
  • Rubber workers
  • Pesticides manufacturing workers
  • Printers
  • Paper and pulp manufacturing workers
  • Adhesive production workers
  • Newspaper press workers

Workplace Benzene Exposure Limits

OSHA - The legal airborne permissible exposure limit is 1 ppm averaged over an 8-hour workshift and 5 ppm not to be exceeded during any 15-minute work period.

NIOSH - The recommended airborne exposure limit is 0.1 ppm averaged over a 10-hour workshift and 1 ppm not to be exceeded during any 15-minute work period.

ACGIH - The recommended airborne exposure limit is 0.5 ppm averaged over an 8-hour workshift and 2.5 ppm as a short-term exposure limit.

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Feature Benzene Article

In 1994, the Houston Chronicle printed an article reporting on the near death of a contract electrician and instrumentation specialist, Mark Niemann, of acute myelogenous leukemia. The very rare form of cancer was the result of a prolonged exposure to benzene at the Houston-area refineries and chemical plants he was employed at. Niemann recalled being drenched in quench oil at a chemical plant he was employed at without protective clothing. It was not until later that he found out quench oil contains benzene. Niemann would return home where his wife would handle and wash his oil soaked clothing.

Other encounters Niemann had with benzene was at a concrete pool where hydrocarbons are skimmed from wastewater and the company did not require a respirator. Respirators and gloves were also withheld in various different positions. At other plants Niemann encountered gasoline, containing benzene, with open streams. The plant officials would inform the employees that if a chemical got on them they had to take a shower. The plant would spray them with various things and the employees never gave it a second thought according to Niemann.

Niemann thinks that a contract worker “doesn’t have a chance” when becoming informed about chemical hazards in the workplace. When Niemann found out he had acute myelogenous leukemia his platelet count dropped from an already decreased 52,000 to an almost fatal 11,000 and his weight fell from 140 to 111. Although his acute myelogenous leukemia is in remission, experts say it takes five years to prove an individual is over it. The acute myelogenous leukemia left Niemann with a substantially altered decreased mental and physical state. -Houston Chronicle, Fall 1994

If you have been exposed to benzene at your workplace and would like to learn more about your rights, please contact us.

Individual Rights And Exposure to Benzene

Obtaining copies of sampling results from your employer is a legal right under OSHA 1910.1020. Exposure to hazardous substances, like benzene, should be routinely evaluated. If work-related health problems from exposure to benzene are suspected, immediately see a doctor that is trained to recognize occupational diseases such as benzene poisoning. To learn more about your legal rights involving exposure to benzene in the workplace, please contact us.

Reducing Benzene Risk In the Workplace

  • Immediately change out of work clothing that may have been contaminated by benzene.
  • Work clothing exposed to benzene should be cleaned only by those informed of the risks and hazards of benzene. Workers should not take the contaminated clothing home to expose family members.
  • Employers should have eye wash fountains provided in case of emergencies.
  • Immediate skin contact should be washed or showered in order to remove the human carcinogen. The employer should provide emergency shower facilities.
  • All workers with possible benzene exposure should immediately wash the areas that may have been exposed.
  • Any food or drink ingestion, as well as smoking, should be completely avoided in areas benzene is handled, processed, or stored. The dangerous chemical can be swallowed so hands should be thoroughly washed prior to eating, drinking, smoking, or using the bathroom.
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If you or a loved one has been exposed to benzene at the workplace or at home, and would like to learn more about your legal rights, contact a benzene lawyer with our legal team. We will help you receive the compensation you are entitled to.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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