What is Benzene?
Benzene is a colorless or light-yellow liquid chemical used in various industries, including petrochemical production, oil and gas refining, coke and coal chemical manufacturing, and rubber tire manufacturing. It can also be found in some household products, including paint, lacquer, and varnish removers and thinners, to name a few.
Benzene exposure is known to cause cancer in humans, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the World Health Organization, and other regulatory agencies. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health lists “inhalation, skin absorption, ingestion, skin and/or eye contact” as benzene exposure routes. Some of our most frequent litigations surround Benzene in Deodorant and Benzene in Sunscreen.
Is Benzene Dangerous?
The toxicity of benzene exposure has been known for more than 120 years. A 2010 review of benzene studies reported, “There is probably no safe level of exposure to benzene, and all exposures constitute some risk in a linear, if not supralinear, and additive fashion.”
Even in trace amounts, long-term exposure to benzene can have detrimental effects on the human body. Once in the bloodstream, the chemical causes chromosome changes in bone marrow cells, impairing the body’s ability to produce healthy levels of white blood cells, red blood cells, and blood platelets, leading to anemia.
Benzene exposure, whether through inhalation or skin absorption, has been linked to life-threatening diseases, including:
- Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML)
- Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS)
- Acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL)
- Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL)
- Multiple myeloma
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Aplastic anemia
Some of these diseases don’t present with symptoms until several years after exposure to benzene. And often, people who are diagnosed with AML, MDS, or some other form of benzene cancer don’t realize that there may be a connection to past benzene exposure.
Is Benzene Exposure Dangerous to Children?
According to the American Cancer Society, benzene exposure is also linked to childhood leukemia, particularly AML, ALL, CLL, and other blood-related cancers such as multiple myeloma and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Is Benzene Exposure Dangerous to Pregnant Women?
Benzene exposure during pregnancy has been linked to the following conditions:
- Increased risk of childhood leukemia
- Low birthweight
- Greater incidence of birth defects such as spina bifida
What are the Short-Term Effects of Benzene Exposure?
Inhaling high levels of benzene can cause symptoms such as:
- Rapid or irregular heartbeat
- At extremely high levels, benzene exposure may cause unconsciousness and death.
Our Benzene Litigation Efforts
Benzene in Sunscreen
In May 2021, the laboratory announced that it detected benzene in sunscreens and after-sun care products. Of the 294 sunscreen products tested, 27% of batches contained benzene. Some batches contained levels of benzene up to three times the limit the FDA advises manufacturers not to exceed in consumer drugs or products due to health concerns. The announcement led to recalls of Johnson & Johnson’s Neutrogena and Aveeno products and Coppertone products.
Benzene in Deodorant
In November 2021, Valisure announced that it had detected benzene in deodorants and antiperspirants. More than half of the 108 batches of the body spray the company tested from 30 different brands contained benzene. Several of the aerosol products tested had levels above the FDA’s recommended limit. Those findings led to recalls of some Old Spice and Secret aerosol deodorants and antiperspirants manufactured by Procter & Gamble (P&G) and Unilever.
Occupational Benzene Exposure
Benzene is widely used in a number of industries and products, yet many people remain unaware of the toxic danger of this chemical substance. Petrochemical plants, oil and gas refineries, coal burning operations, and motor vehicle exhaust are all major sources of benzene pollution in the environment.
High levels of benzene—a known carcinogen—have been detected in several brands and batches of popular consumer products. Benzene is a colorless or light-yellow liquid chemical used in a variety of industrial and household products. But it is dangerous. Benzene exposure is linked to cancers including leukemia and lymphoma.
Beasley Allen is pursuing cases of cancer in people with cancer who have used products contaminated with benzene. Our firm has the resources to represent clients throughout the country while never losing sight of the individual. If you or a loved one have regularly used products like sunscreen or deodorant that were contaminated with benzene and been diagnosed with cancer such as leukemia or lymphoma, we can help.
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