Overview of Occupational Benzene Exposures
Benzene is a known cancer-causing chemical found in products made from coal and petroleum. This includes lubricants, plastics, rubbers, dyes, and other chemicals. People who work in industries that make or process these products were likely exposed to benzene in the workplace, putting them at an increased risk for leukemia, lymphoma and other blood cancers.
Industrial Exposure to Benzene
Workers employed in industries that make or use benzene may be exposed to the highest levels of the chemical.
Which industries use the most benzene?
- petrochemicals production
- oil and gas refining
- coke and coal chemical manufacturing
- rubber tire manufacturing
- storage or transport of benzene and petroleum products containing benzene
Other at-risk workers who may be exposed to benzene in the workplace includes:
- steel workers
- rubber workers
- laboratory technicians
- auto mechanics
- gas station employees
Occupational Benzene Cancers
Workers are exposed to the dangers of benzene in their occupations through skin absorption or inhalation. This exposure is linked to blood cancers such as:
- Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML)
- Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS)
- Acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL)
- Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL)
- Multiple myeloma
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Aplastic anemia
It can take years for the symptoms of benzene-related cancer to present, and often workers do not realize that their illness was likely caused by exposure to benzene at their workplace years earlier.
Occupational Protections Against Benzene Toxicity
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the cancer research unit of the World Health Organization (WHO), warns that no level of benzene exposure is safe for humans. Yet, industries across the country continue making or processing products with benzene.
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sets the maximum time-weighted average benzene exposure limit at 1 part of benzene vapor per million parts of air (1 ppm) for an 8-hour workday and the maximum short-term exposure limit at 5 ppm for any 15-minute period.
Employees have the right to work in a safe environment. Industries that use the chemical should limit workers’ exposure by:
- Replacing benzene with safer chemicals
- Enclosing containers of benzene so it does not splash or spill
- Installing ventilation hoods to keep the toxic gas out of the air
- Providing workers with respirators and other personal protective equipment (PPE)
- Undergoing regular OSHA safety inspections and implementing recommendations
Unfortunately, many employers turned a blind eye to the risks they were exposing their workers to. We are holding them accountable.
Environmental Benzene Exposures
People with benzene-related cancers who worked for companies that knowingly exposed them to benzene without proper protections deserve compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and more. Many victims have filed occupational benzene exposure lawsuits against their employers that have resulted in multimillion-dollar verdicts and settlements.
File a Benzene Lawsuit
Due to certain statute of limitations for bringing a claim of this nature, it is important to contact an attorney as soon as possible if you believe your condition is a result of occupational benzene exposure. If you or a loved one was exposed to benzene and was diagnosed with one of the forms of leukemia or lymphoma listed above, please contact a Beasley Allen benzene attorney for a complimentary, no-cost consultation to learn your legal rights.
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