Benzene Exposure & Links to Cancer
If your workplace contains hazardous chemicals and materials, you have a right to demand a safe work environment. One such chemical, benzene, can be found in many industries where workers come in direct contact with solvents. Painters, rubber workers, mechanics, and printers, for example, may be exposed to benzene without fully realizing the danger it poses. Benzene has been associated with many serious health problems, including an increased risk of developing certain cancers.
Chemical exposure is no joke, and if you or someone you love was exposed to dangerous chemicals like benzene on the job, you have a right to know the risks and to seek compensation for damages. Read on to learn more about how benzene exposure could affect you.
Derived from petroleum, benzene is a flammable, organic liquid used to make other chemicals and plastics. It is clear and omits a sweet, slightly gassy smell. Usually, benzene is used as a constituent or contaminant in other solvents like xylene, toluene, oil-based paints, de-greasers, gasoline, and mineral spirits.
What Occupations Are Exposed?
Benzene can be found in several different work environments. Industrial workers who work in factories may see benzene products, and workers who come in direct contact with a variety of chemicals are likely to come across it as well.
Some occupations commonly exposed to benzene include:
- Barge workers
- Rubber workers
- Tire builders
- Gasoline distribution workers
- Ship workers
- Refinery workers
Associated Health Risks
When you come in contact with benzene, you may face serious health risks. Upon exposure, the individual may experience immediate side effects, such as dizziness or drowsiness. Benzene is absorbed either through inhalation or skin absorption, which then allows the chemical to enter the bloodstream. Once in the body, benzene affects bone marrow, damaging white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets. Repeated exposure can be especially dangerous, as the damage can increase over time.
Long-term health risks include:
- Acute Myelogenous Leukemia: A type of cancer that affects the blood and bone marrow. It is a rapidly progressing disease that can cause fever, bone pain, lethargy, shortness of breath, pale skin, infections, bruising, and unusual bleeding.
- Aplastic Anemia: This condition occurs when the body no longer produces enough new blood cells, causing lethargy and a higher risk of infection. It can also lead to uncontrolled bleeding and can progress to other forms of blood and bone marrow cancers. This condition is both rare and extremely serious.
- Lymphoma: Lymphoma is a cancer of the lymphatic system that affects white blood cells and the immune system. Those with lymphoma have a hard time fighting diseases, which can lead to additional illnesses. Types of lymphoma include Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL), Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL), Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma (NHL), and more.
- Myelodysplastic Syndromes: This group of disorders occur when the bone marrow produces poorly formed blood cells. There are several different types of Myelodysplastic Syndromes, which are categorized according to which blood cells (red, white or platelets) are affected. A few subtypes include refractory anemia with ringed sideroblasts (RARS), refractory anemia with excess blasts (RAEB), chronic myelomonycitic leukemia (CMML), and myeloproliferative disorder.
If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with cancer after exposure to benzene, our firm wants to help.
Contact Shrader & Associates L.L.P. for help with your personal injury case.