If you work in a production facility, there is a good chance that you regularly encounter a variety of manufacturing gasses. Used in the production of some plastics, nylon, resin and other goods, benzene may be hazardous to your health. While blood-related complications are the primary risk of working with this type of gas, your lungs may also be in danger.
Benzene may either be naturally occurring or human-made. While breathing in normal amounts of the gas is not likely to harm your health, regular exposure to higher volumes becomes a source of great concern. Here are a few ways that benzene exposure may be catastrophic for your lungs:
A known carcinogen
The American Cancer Society lists benzene as a carcinogenic agent. That is, the gas may cause cancer. While much of the research on the link between benzene and cancer focuses on leukemia and other blood cancers, your lungs may also develop cancerous nodules if cancer metastasizes.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cautions against inducing vomiting on individuals who have swallowed benzene. This may cause aspiration, which may injure the lungs. Furthermore, breathing benzene may cause tissue irritation, which could lead to pneumonia and other life-threatening complications.
If you have asthma, you probably control the condition with a slow-release medication. You may also have a standby inhaler to assist you in emergencies. Unfortunately, benzene may cause your existing asthma to flare up. In extreme cases, asthma attacks can be fatal. Still, after a benzene-related exacerbation, asthma symptoms may remain for an extended period of time.
If you must work with benzene, you should take steps to protect yourself from serious injury. Of course, even with your best efforts, you may eventually develop a serious lung condition. By understanding how benzene may contribute to life-altering consequences, you can better plan both for staying safe and for asserting your legal rights.