Are you someone who has worked on a barge, tanker, inside a chemical or a petroleum plant, or as a painter? Many people don’t know it, but their job sites may be hazardous to their health. A very dangerous and harmful chemical substance known as Benzene continues to be used in this nation’s industrial workplaces. The use of the chemical as a solvent has been regulated in the U.S. for many years, but workers continue to be exposed to the chemical because it is an ingredient of many of the petroleum solvents found in their workplaces. Additionally, many employers and manufacturers do not take the steps necessary to reduce workers exposure to the chemical.
Benzene is a clear, sweet-smelling, highly combustible, toxic chemical often used in the manufacturing of plastics, resins, drugs, rubber, paint, synthetics, pesticides, and other products.
Although it has been regulated in the United States as a solvent more than 20 years ago, benzene is still found in most petroleum solvents, such as gasoline. Many industrial workers are exposed to toxic chemicals on a regular basis, increasing their risks of developing serious illnesses or diseases.
Uses of Benzene
Benzene is commonly found in petroleum products like gasoline and crude oil. It is present in some petrochemical and petroleum plants and is transported in barges, tankers, trucks, and rail cars. It used to be present in some paints, paint thinners, printing solvents, liquid wrench, and other solvents. In addition, benzene can be a contaminant in other chemicals such as toluene.
Health Effects of Benzene Exposure
Benzene is a known carcinogen that can wreak havoc—even in low doses—on the immune system of anyone who is exposed to it. It has been linked to a slew of deadly, dangerous diseases, including:
- Acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL)
- Acute myeloid leukemia (AML)
- Chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML)
- Myelodysplastic syndrome
- Non-hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Secondary aplastic anemia
Jobs at High Risk
Workers who transport or work around petroleum products or petrochemicals or who work in the following type of plants and industries are at an increased risk of benzene exposure:
- Oil refineries
- Synthetic Rubber Production
- Truck Drivers
- Barge Workers
- Dock Workers
- Offshore Workers
- Gasoline Distribution
- Petrochemical Complexes
Those who work with or around the following may also be at increased risk:
- Industrial Solvents
- Gasoline Fumes
- Oil and Coal Emissions
Tests and Exams for Exposure
Several tests are available to help you determine if you have been exposed to benzene. Your blood, breath and urine can all be tested to see if you have been exposed to the chemical. The only downside is that the breath and blood tests must be administered shortly after exposure because benzene exits the body quickly. Furthermore, the urine test, which measures levels of metabolites, is considered unreliable in determining the levels of benzene in the body. This is because there are chemicals other than benzene which cause metabolites to form in the urine.
Contact an Attorney
Because so many factors can affect whether or not a benzene case is successful, this question must be answered on an individual basis. Nonetheless, time especially in regards to your health is of the essence. If you have had long term exposure to benzene, and have been diagnosed with leukemia, lymphoma, aplastic anemia, or any other blood cancer or blood disorder contact an experienced toxic exposure lawyer to learn more about your legal rights.