Benzene is a clear, sweet-smelling Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) that is found in crude oil, gasoline, and petroleum products. It is used to make plastics and other important products, but its use is limited in the US because of severe health risks.
Benzene is an important industrial solvent used to make paint, rubber, and plastic. It is also an important component of gasoline and other petroleum products. Over half the benzene used in the United States is used to produce ingredients for plastics manufacturing.
Because benzene is an important part of many industrial processes, benzene exposure is a real risk to the public and to workers that handle it. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulates the use of benzene to protect workers and the public from high levels of benzene exposure, but accidents and negligence still expose thousands of Americans to high levels of benzene every year.
People can be exposed to benzene through the air, water, and soil. Several incidents of benzene contamination of public water sources have demonstrated that drinking benzene-contaminated water is just as dangerous as breathing benzene-contaminated air.
However, benzene evaporates quickly so most people are exposed to benzene by breathing benzene vapor. Many Americans are exposed to benzene during the course of everyday life due to:
- Cigarette smoke
- Gas Stations
- Car Exhaust
- House Paint
However, it is more common for people to be exposed to high levels of benzene while working, especially in the following industries:
- Rubber manufacturing
- Plastics manufacturing
- Paint manufacturing and application
- Parts manufacturing
- Crude oil refining
- Chemical manufacturing
- Crude oil and gasoline transport
If you worked at a company that exposed you to benzene without protection, your employer was breaking the law. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) places the limit for workplace exposure to benzene in the air at 1 ppm (part per million). It is illegal to expose workers to enough benzene to damage their health.
Short-Term Benzene Health Risks
Short-term exposure to benzene causes a variety of negative symptoms. In high doses, benzene is lethal. Other symptoms of benzene exposure include:
- Rapid or irregular heartbeat
- Loss of consciousness
If you have experienced these symptoms while working with benzene, you may have been exposed to illegally high levels of benzene. Exposure to benzene can cause serious long-term health problems, so if you know you have been exposed to high levels of benzene, you need to take action to protect yourself.
Benzene and Cancer
Benzene causes cancer and has been linked to birth defects and fertility changes in both women and men. Studies have demonstrated that benzene directly causes genetic mutations in healthy cells.
Benzene also causes bone marrow failure and has been linked to several blood diseases:
- Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML)
- Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (CML)
- Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL)
- Aplastic Anemia
- Myleodysplastic Syndrome (MDS)
Blood disorders caused by benzene all interfere with basic functions of the body like fighting infections and blood clotting. This often results in symptoms like exhaustion, frequent illnesses, unusually pale color, easy bruising, shortness of breath, weight loss, fever, chills, aches, and bone or joint pain. Blood disorders can also cause painful swelling in the spleen, liver, gums, or lymph nodes.
However, in some cases patients with benzene blood disorders have no symptoms. These patients only find out that they are severely ill because of routine blood tests.
Blood disorders can be fatal and often significantly reduce the patient’s quality of life. Treatments and outcomes vary based on the type of disorder, how early it is discovered, and other factors such as the age of the patient and whether the patient has any other chronic conditions. Blood disorders completely change the patient’s life and often burden the patient with financial worries.
That is how we help. At Danziger & De Llano, we are committed to helping our patients recover compensation to cover medical costs. If your employer exposed you to benzene and you have a blood disorder, you have legal rights and we are here to help you pursue them via a claim or benzene lawsuit.
If you have a blood or bone marrow disease due to benzene exposure at work, your employer was breaking the law. Your employer was negligent, not you. Why should you have to pay the high cost of treating leukemia and other cancers?
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