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Can benzene exposure at work lead to health issues?

Can benzene exposure at work lead to health issues?

Many of the materials that Americans use are made using the colorless liquid benzene. This liquid is flammable, but it is used to manufacture detergents, pesticides, plastics, rubbers, drugs, lubricants, dyes and other items. Workers who are exposed to benzene can suffer from negative health effects because of that exposure.

What industries are likely to include exposure to benzene?

A host of industries can include exposure to benzene because it is among the top 20 chemicals used in the United States. It is part of gasoline and crude oil, so workers in the gas and oil industry and the automobile industry can face exposure. Factory workers, industrial workers, pharmaceutical workers and pest control workers can all be exposed to benzene.

What are some of the negative effects of exposure to benzene?

Benzene is a known carcinogen, which means it can cause cancer. Studies have shown that benzene exposure is linked to blood cell cancers and leukemia. Benzene exposure can also cause anemia, low platelet count, low white blood cell count, skin irritation, dizziness, confusion, headaches, rapid heart rate, vomiting, sleepiness, tremors and unconsciousness. It could also be linked to infertility.

Employers have a duty to ensure that benzene levels in the workplace are in compliance with standards set by the federal government. If you were exposed to high levels of benzene and suffered negative health effects, you might choose to file a workers' compensation claim. The benefits you receive could help you pay for medical bills related to the benzene exposure, as well as cover the missed pay that was result of you having to take time off of work because of the exposure's effects.

Source: American Cancer Society, "Benzene and Cancer Risk," accessed May 26, 2016

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