Benzene is a colorless liquid chemical that is described as having a sweet smell. However, it is one of the most dangerous and most prevalent chemicals on earth.

According to the Center for Disease Control, benzene exposure is proven to cause cancer in humans. As a result, it is important to know where benzene exposure occurs and how to recognize you have been exposed.

Where does benzene exposure occur?

According to the American Cancer Society, the number one cause of benzene exposure is through the air. Likely, this is because benzene evaporates almost immediately when it is exposed to air.

Benzene exposure can occur from the environment. Naturally, benzene is found in natural gasses, volcanoes, forest fires, oil or coal. It can also come from tobacco smoke, gasoline and motor vehicle exhaust.

Many industries also use benzene to make a variety of materials. Benzene is used to make plastic, rubber, detergents, pesticides, nylon, dyes and a variety of other items. The most common workplaces exposed to benzene are gas stations, oil refineries, chemical plants, rubber and shoe manufacturers. Firefighters are also at a high risk of benzene exposure. While laws are in place help protect employees from benzene exposure, many people are still at risk.

What are the most common symptoms?

Benzene exposure can result in a variety of symptoms that can occur minutes to days after exposure. Some of the most common symptoms can include:

  • Extreme fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach pain
  • Involuntary muscle movements

In the most serious of cases, exposure to benzene can cause unconsciousness and even death. Additionally, if your eyes or skin are directly exposed to benzene it can cause serious tissue damage and can even absorb into the blood. The CDC recommends removing your clothes immediately and washing your body with soap and water after benzene exposure. It is important to seek medical assistance immediately following.

While doctors can treat most cases of benzene exposure, medical bills can add up quickly. Consult with an attorney to determine who is liable for the exposure and your best options to receive compensation.