Avoiding Benzene Can Help Reduce Your Chances of Developing Cancer
Benzene is a useful chemical that can be found in many different industries. It is used to make many materials we use everyday including plastics, lubricants, rubbers, dyes, detergents, drugs, and pesticides. Benzene can also be a part of crude oil, gasoline, and cigarette smoke, which some people encounter every day. Benzene is mainly inhaled when it is in the surrounding air, but it is also able to enter the body through the skin. The largest exposures to benzene are usually through the workplace, but people can also be exposed through the environment and some consumer products.
High levels of benzene can have negative short-term effects on the nervous system. It can cause drowsiness, dizziness, headaches, tremors, confusion, and unconsciousness. If someone consumes a high level of the substance, the person can experience vomiting, stomach irritation, dizziness, sleepiness, convulsions, and a rapid heart rate. It also irritates the eyes, skin, and throat and can create redness and blisters on the skin. The short-term effects are unpleasant, but the long-term effects can be even worse. Benzene is a carcinogen and studies of workers exposed to high levels of the substance have proven this. The population of the workers studied had a higher rate of acute myeloid leukemia compared to workers not exposed to benzene.
Benzene can affect the levels of blood cells in the body, which can then lead to cancer. When people were exposed to low levels of benzene, their white blood cell count was 15 percent lower than people not exposed to the substance. As the exposure to benzene got higher, the white blood cell count became lower. The low blood cell count points to the blood creating areas of the bone marrow being affected. Other cells called progenitor cells, which are stem cells that turn into different types of blood cells, were also reduced. The stem cells being affected helps link benzene exposure to leukemia.
Limiting exposure to benzene is a great way to prevent certain cancers like acute myeloid leukemia. If you smoke, quitting smoking would reduce the everyday exposure to benzene and other carcinogens you are adding to your body. You can also limit exposure to gasoline by using gas stations that have vapor recovery systems and by avoiding skin contact with gasoline. You can also be exposed through idling car engines, so avoiding idling cars as much as possible is recommended. If your workplace has a lot of benzene exposure, speak with your employer to see if personal protective equipment can be provided or if the source of benzene can be replaced with a safer alternative.
Benzene causes preventable cancers like acute myeloid leukemia. If you were exposed to benzene and now have this cancer, you could be entitled to compensation. Contact us today by calling 412-471-3980 or by filling out our contact form to see if we can get you the compensation you deserve.
“Benzene and Cancer Risk” American Cancer Society (January 15, 2016). [Link]
Don Monroe, “Even at Low Levels, Benzene Takes Toll on White Blood Cells” Scientific American (December 3, 2004). [Link]