Benzene exposure risks

Dec 31, 2019 | Benzene Exposure

Many people in Illinois and Missouri may not always think about what types of chemicals commonly contribute to the manufacture of everyday products. For workers in the pharmaceutical, chemical or food production industries, they may be exposed to some potentially harmful chemicals in the course of doing their jobs. Employers should take appropriate precautions to protect employees against excessive exposure, but it is important for workers to know what chemicals to be aware of. Benzene is one such chemical. 

As explained by Chemical Safety Facts, benzene boasts high solvency properties and is frequently used to produce materials like polystyrene, rubber, pesticides, nylon, dyes and even foods. During the manufacturing process, reactions involving benzene should only be conducted in closed areas to protect people from exposure to high levels of this chemical. Benzene has no color, so it is not detectable by sight. 

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that persons exposed to high levels of benzene over long periods of time may increase their risk of contracting a variety of diseases, such as leukemia, anemia and cancer of the organs involved in making blood. These people may also experience a reduction in the functioning of their immune systems, making it harder for their bodies to ward off infections. 

Crude oil, natural gas, coal and cigarette smoke are some of the sources of benzene. This chemical may also be released into the air during a forest fire or a volcanic eruption. People may experience benzene poisoning, for which no effective antidote has yet been developed. Prompt medical attention is imperative for anyone who has experienced a benzene poisoning.