Benzene is a relatively common chemical. It is present in numerous consumer products and many different professional environments. Despite how common it is, benzene is a dangerous chemical.
Long-term benzene exposure can cause damage to the bone marrow and affect the body’s ability to produce blood. Sometimes it affects the immune system or the ability of blood to clot and stop bleeding. Federal agencies also recognize benzene as a human carcinogen, as benzene exposure increases someone’s risk of developing leukemia.
Those who work in certain industries or who have previously worked in those industries may have increased risk compared with the general public when it comes to benzene-related illnesses. What professions have the strongest correlation with benzene exposure?
Oil and gas employees
Someone who works in the oil industry or at a chemical production facility may have high levels of risk for benzene exposure on the job. Benzene is often part of the refining process for crude oil and is also a component in many petroleum-based products. Workers in the oil and gas industry and those who work at facilities that produce different petroleum-based products may have workplace exposure to benzene.
Benzine is an important component in numerous different products, including multiple different kinds of glue and paint. Even detergents and furniture wax contain benzene. Vinyl and rubber products also have an association with benzene.
Anyone who works in the manufacturing facility that works directly with benzene or with products that include Benzene could develop medical issues including cancer. Chemical plant employees may be at particularly high risk.
Benzene is a popular ingredient in many different kinds of paint, so those who do indoor or outdoor painting work may inhale benzene fumes as the paint that they apply off-gases. Some companies may try to limit the health risk to their workers by providing respiratory gear or using paints with minimal benzene, but the potential is there for anyone who routinely handles paint, especially in enclosed spaces without proper ventilation, to develop a benzene-related illness.
Anyone with frequent environmental exposure to benzene could be at risk of developing an illness later in life. Some of these individuals may qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. Others may have to pursue a civil claim against a former employer. Learning more about your rights when you have medical issues caused by workplace benzene exposure can help you cover the cost of your care.