What is Benzene?
Benzene is an organic chemical compound that is colorless and has a sweet odor. It is highly flammable and it quickly evaporates into the air. Being a toxic chemical compound, benzene is carcinogenic and can cause a lot of dangerous health problems.
What is Benzene used for?
Benzene can be found in crude oil, gasoline, cigarette smoke and motor vehicle emissions, and it is used as an industrial solvent in the manufacturing of paints, dyes, detergents, furniture wax, plastics, rubber, resins, nylon, glues, lubricants, pesticides and many other products and chemicals.
How can you be exposed to benzene?
Outdoor air contains benzene from cigarette smoke, motor vehicle emissions, gas stations and industrial emissions, but they all create very low levels of benzene. Higher benzene levels can be found in indoor environments, specifically in manufacturing companies that either make it or use it to produce heavy chemicals or other products mentioned above.
You can be exposed to dangerous levels of benzene if you are a chemical worker who is in contact with it on a daily basis, especially if you are a gasoline hauler. Hazardous waste sites and gas stations can also be dangerous concerning benzene.
What are the dangers of benzene exposure?
Short-term exposure to benzene through inhalation directly affects the central nervous system, but it doesn’t have any long-term dangerous effects to health. Short-term benzene exposure through skin contact also doesn’t have harmful effects, and the same goes for ingesting a small amount of liquid benzene.
However, ingesting a larger amount of liquid benzene can be fatal. Also, long-term exposure to benzene can lead to many serious diseases, all linked to leukemia, lymphoma and other forms of cancer. Benzene can severely damage the immune system and cause the loss of white blood cells, and it can also affect bone marrow and cause a decrease in the production of red blood cells.
What are the symptoms of benzene exposure?
If you have inhaled a high level of benzene, you may experience the following symptoms:
- Rapid heartbeat.
If you have ingested foods or beverages with high benzene levels, you may experience the following symptoms:
- Irritation to the stomach
- Rapid heartbeat.
If your skin or eyes have been in direct contact with benzene, you may experience irritation, redness and tissue injury.
What should you do if you were exposed to benzene?
If you were exposed to the air where benzene has evaporated, you need to move to a safe area with fresh air immediately, so that you don’t get exposed to high levels of benzene, which can be fatal.
Afterwards, make sure you remove your contaminated clothes, putting them in a plastic bag, and thoroughly wash your entire body. Make sure you contact your local health department right afterwards in order to receive proper medical care, as well as to give them the plastic bag with your clothes, because they will know how to properly and safely dispose of it.
If you have ingested a certain amount of benzene, make sure you don’t vomit, even though you may feel like it. This is because the vomit may get sucked into your lungs and cause serious damage. Also, don’t drink any fluids. Instead, go and see a doctor immediately, as they will provide you with proper medical attention.
Can you seek workers’ compensation for exposure to benzene?
If you think that you have been exposed to benzene at your place of work, you can file a workers’ compensation claim for benzene exposure. Contact us today to schedule an appointment with one of our expert lawyers who will go over your case and see whether or not your claim to get compensation is actually valid and whether or not there is a liable party that can be held accountable for your injury.
Keep in mind that there is a designated period of time when you can file a workers’ compensation claim, so you should do it as soon as you can. That time period is referred to as a statute of limitations, and it differs from one jurisdiction to another, so make sure you find out how long you actually have to file the claim, so that you don’t lose your right to do so if you happen to wait too long.