Being exposed to benzene can cause a wide range of problems that are detrimental to the health of an individual. Exposure is not limited to the workplace, but can also occur within the home.
Risks and Health Effects/Diseases
Exposure to benzene can be quite detrimental to an individual’s health and is associated with a wide range of adverse health effects that include cancer and aplastic anemia. There are no limitations to where exposure can occur; it can occur in the workplace or in a domestic environment. This is because of the common use of petroleum products that contain benzene (including motor fuels and solvents). Benzene is extremely volatile, and people are exposed to the chemical primarily through inhalation.
Areas of Exposure
Since benzene occurs naturally in raw petroleum (at levels as high as 4 g/l), anyone who works with petroleum products is at risk of serious injury through exposure. Some of the activities that could lead to benzene exposure include:
- Processing petroleum products
- Coal coking
- Producing toluene, zylene, and various aromatic compounds
- Long-term use of consumer and industrial products containing benzene
Homes with attached garages tend to have higher levels of benzene in the air than homes with detached garages. Homes located close to gas stations also have higher levels of benzene than those farther away. It may also be released in homes that contain oil heating systems but lack a flue, or in various consumer products that contain benzene.
Higher levels of benzene occur in the inside air of vehicles than occurs in homes, though not nearly as high as gasoline stations or (especially) oil refineries.
Health Effects of Benzene Exposure
Even acute exposure to benzene can lead to a variety of health effects that include:
- Loss of consciousness
Those who have been victims of chronic exposure to benzene might suffer many different effects, including cancer. There is some evidence to support the possibility that benzene may also cause both acute and chronic lymphocytic leukemia, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and multiple types of myeloma. There appears to be an increased risk of leukemia mortality in individuals who have suffered from benzene poisoning. Chronic exposure can also lead to a reduction in both white and red blood cells in the bone marrow.
Three major companies are facing a wrongful death lawsuit brought by the family of a man who died from what they believe was benzene exposure. The family of the deceased filed a lawsuit against Goodrich, Dow Chemical, and Axiall Corp. on August 12th in Jefferson County District Court.
According to the lawsuit, the injured/deceased party was employed in a laboratory during the 1960s and 1970s when he was employed by Goodrich. During the course of his employment, he was allegedly exposed to cancer-causing chemicals that included benzene. This caused him to develop renal cell carcinoma of the kidney which resulted in his death.
According to the lawsuit, the defendants are said to be negligent in regard to making, selling, and using the chemicals and failing to notify consumers of the dangers. The lawsuit also alleges gross negligence because the company failed to provide a work place that was safe, and failed to warn employees of the health hazards.
If you (or someone you love) has suffered serious injuries which you believe to be related to benzene exposure, we urge you to seek out a free consultation with a product liability lawyer in your area. In some cases, you could be owed significant compensation.