Benzene is an organic chemical that’s a known carcinogen. Despite that fact, benzene is widely used in a variety of industrial processes. Benzene is also found in motor vehicle emissions, cigarette smoke, gasoline and oil. Although benzene exposure at low levels has not been demonstrated conclusively to cause serious health problems, industrial employees who’ve worked around benzene and people who live on sites where benzene was used as an industrial reagent are at risk for developing benzene-related diseases including cancer, anemia, irreversible damage to their immune systems and reproductive dysfunctions especially in females.
Applications and Products Containing Benzene
Benzene is used in plastics, resins, synthetic fibers, detergents, lubricant and dye manufacturing plants; oil refineries and other gasoline-related industries. Low levels of benzene are found in the air we breathe, secondary to contamination from cigarette smoke, motor vehicle exhaust and industrial emissions. Indoor air can have higher benzene levels than outdoor air, especially when smokers are living in the house. A 2007 report from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry found that approximately half of all benzene exposure in the U.S. comes from second hand tobacco smoke exposure.
Federal agencies like the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and OSHA (The Occupational Health and Safety Administration) maintain strict standards for permissible levels of benzene in the workplace and in groundwater. Nevertheless, benzene exposure remains a serious problem in the U.S. where many victims of benzene toxicity have sought legal redress. Claimants have brought suits against manufacturers and distributors of products containing benzene, charging that they were inadequately warned of its dangers although the manufacturers and distributors were privy to that information. Workers have sued employers over unsafe working conditions and the lack of protective equipment.
Legal claims involving benzene exposure are very complex and require the services of an attorney who is experienced in product liability or workplace exposure to toxins. Those who have suffered injuries to their health following benzene exposure may want to speak with a lawyer. Depending on the circumstances of their case, they could be able to bring an individual suit or join an existing class action lawsuit.
Additional Frequently Asked Questions
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