What is benzene?
Benzene is a naturally occurring chemical that is emitted in small concentrations by volcanoes, fossil fuels, and forest fires. It is also synthetically manufactured widely in the United States as it is used to make other chemicals utilized in the production of many common household, industrial, and agricultural goods. However, despite its natural origins and wide use, benzene can be as deadly as the forest fires that produce it.
Who is at risk?
Firefighters and people who work in any industry that produces Nylon, plastic, rubber, chemicals, shoes, lubricants, dyes, detergents, drugs, explosives, petrochemicals, or pesticides are exposed to hazardous levels of benzene. This naturally occurring chemical is a known human carcinogen and has been implicated as a potential cause of leukemia, particularly Acute Myeloid Leukemia, as well as other conditions such as anemia, immunity depression, decreased ovary size in women, and chronic-fatigue-syndrome.
Benzene exposure is not limited to those who work in industrial settings, however. We all encounter benzene when we breathe emissions from burning coal and oil, motor vehicle exhaust, and evaporating gasoline at gas stations. Cigarette smokers inhale benzene with every puff, and, depending on the water quality of the place we call home, we all may have had a benzene-laden sip or two of that clear liquid. Some soft drinks have also recently been found to contain toxic levels of benzene.
How can benzene affect me?
Low levels of benzene exposure can cause drowsiness, dizziness, rapid heart rate, headaches, tremors, confusion, and unconsciousness. Higher levels can lead to terminal diseases, including aplastic anemia and cancer, and particularly Acute Myeloid Leukemia.
What should I do if I think I have been exposed?
If you work in any of the industries noted above, are exposed to high levels of gasoline, coal, or oil emissions, smoke cigarettes, or live in an area that may have benzene-contaminated water, seek an evaluation from a healthcare professional. A doctor can detect benzene in your system through a breath, blood, or urine analysis, but each of those tests must be done shortly after exposure.
If you have any of the above symptoms or a diagnosis of cancer, leukemia, or other blood-related health problems and think it may be related to benzene exposure, do not hesitate to contact a lawyer. Employers are responsible for providing safe and healthy places for workers to do their jobs; exposing professionals to dangerous levels of known carcinogens is a betrayal of that responsibility. A trustworthy lawyer can help you hold your employer accountable for his or her negligence and ensure that you get the care and compensation you deserve.
If you or a loved one has been injured, contact us online or call us at 800.705.2121 to set up a FREE consultation to discuss your legal options.
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