You may have an idea about what benzene is, or you may never have heard of this chemical at all. Benzene is a natural chemical as well as one that is created artificially. It can be sourced from forest fires and volcanoes, and it’s also part of cigarette smoke, gasoline and crude oil.
Benzene is often used in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that benzene is listed among the top 20 chemicals by production volume.
The problem is benzene is that it can cause many serious injuries and symptoms. Benzene affects the cells in the body, causing them to work incorrectly. The bone marrow may not produce enough red blood cells, or white blood cells may die.
How do you recognize the symptoms of benzene poisoning?
Benzene poisoning causes immediate symptoms in those who are exposed to high levels. Symptoms of breathing in benzene may include:
- Irregular/rapid heartbeat
Those who drink or eat benzene may have symptoms such as:
- Irritation of the stomach
Unfortunately, the long-term health effects are serious as well. The blood is primarily affected. It may have a significant decrease in red blood cells, which is called anemia, and patients may start to bleed excessively. The immune system may be impacted, which increases the risk of infections in those exposed. Benzene is known to cause cancer in humans, and long-term exposure can result in leukemia.
Those who are exposed to benzene need to rapidly wash their bodies with soap and water, removing all clothing. They should then seek medical care as soon as possible to get supportive care. Benzene exposure has no immediate remedy, but the medical team can provide supportive care, such as through a blood transfusion or supplemental oxygen.
Where can people be exposed to benzene?
Benzene exposure is possible in industrial settings, the military and other locations. If you believe that you have been exposed or are dealing with the effects of exposure from your workplace, it’s important to look into your legal options and how to get compensated.