If you work in the petrochemical industry, you should be aware of a specific risk that you face. Exposure to benzene can have serious health repercussions for those in the industry.
This chemical is naturally found in crude oil. It can also be an organic emission from forest fires and even volcanoes. But benzene is also generated in plants and commonly used in many different products, including:
- Paint stripper
- Starter fluid
- Cleaning products
Benzene is also used as part of the synthesis process for other chemicals, which means it can turn up in places you may not expect.
What can workers do to avoid exposure?
Some career paths will bring workers into close contact with benzene fumes. A mask should be an important part of your personal protective equipment (PPE), especially if you work indoors where the ventilation may be inadequate.
Since benzene is also found in cigarette smoke, quitting smoking and limiting your exposure to secondhand smoke is prudent.
Workplace exposure can lead to leukemia
Petrochemical workers who were exposed to a toxic release of benzene can be at risk of developing leukemia and other diseases that can affect the blood and bone marrow. The exposure can be a single, high-level exposure that leaves workers in immediate danger of coma or death or can occur gradually during your years of work in the petrochemical industry.
Tying your health condition to workplace exposures is vital
Leukemia can often be put into remission when treated early and aggressively. However, the treatments can be both debilitating and expensive, leaving you unable to work when you most need the money. If you suspect a workplace exposure to benzene caused your leukemia, learning more about your legal options is recommended.