Besides causing harmful impacts on the bone marrow, benzene exposure can adversely affect the respiratory tract and mucus membranes. As a known carcinogen, this chemical agent is also associated with aplastic anemia and leukemia, among other severe or life-threatening side effects.
Severe Implications of Benzene Exposure
Adverse effects of the chemical substance depend on the level of exposure, and the duration one is exposed to the harmful chemical. In the short term, benzene can irritate the respiratory tract as well as the eyes, skin, and mucus membranes. Other health concerns include drowsiness, irregular heart rhythm, and loss of consciousness. Because of its carcinogenic nature, prolonged exposure to the harmful chemical can cause life-threatening health conditions such as variations in bone marrow production. Changes in the production of red blood cells can cause anemia and several types of blood cancers like aplastic anemia and other forms of leukemia.
Benzene is a colorless flammable liquid used in manufacturing processes and created by fires, cigarette smoke, and other forms of combustion. Exposure to this substance can cause health problems in humans, including certain types of cancer. Benzene is categorized as a carcinogen, or cancer-causing agent, by the Environmental Protection Agency. While all individuals are exposed to low levels of environmental benzene, certain people may come in contact with dangerous levels. Understanding the risk factors for benzene exposure can allow individuals to decrease or eliminate those risks.
Those who work in industries that rely on benzene are at the highest risk for exposure, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Example industries include but are not limited to benzene production, industrial steel, medical and chemical laboratories, gas stations, printing, and rubber tire manufacture. The CDC estimates that at least 238,000 Americans fall into this risk category. This risk is especially prevalent among older Americans who worked in these industries before stricter regulations for workplace exposure were introduced in recent decades.
Individuals who reside in urban and heavily developed industrial areas are more susceptible to benzene exposure than those who live in rural or suburban settings. The presence of nearby gas stations, highways with heavy traffic, petroleum refineries, petrochemical plants, and hazardous waste sites also increases risk. Because the amount of benzene in gasoline has been limited by federal and state regulations in the 1980s and beyond, these risks are higher for older adults.
The CDC notes that those who smoke cigarettes have about 10 times the daily benzene intake of nonsmokers. The agency estimates that about half of U.S. benzene exposure can be attributed to cigarette smoke.
Using chemical products containing benzene in an enclosed space or unventilated area could raise the risk for benzene-related health problems. Examples include certain art supplies, solvents, glues, paints, and other fume-releasing substances.
Individuals who develop health problems after occupational benzene exposure could be eligible for legal damages. According to the American Cancer Society, this substance is linked to the development of leukemia and other blood disorders. Contact D’Amico Law Offices, LLC for a consultation in the Pittsburgh area with our experienced attorneys.