Benzene Exposure in Louisiana
How It Happens & Potential Harmful Impact
Found in a variety of industrial products and processes, benzene is one of the most commonly used chemicals in the United States, but it is also one of the most dangerous for those exposed to it.
In Louisiana, toxic tort claims have been filed as a result of benzene exposure, and it is important to understand the risk factors involved along with the symptoms of benzene exposure so that victims of the chemical’s harmful effects can be aware of how their issues may have begun.
How Benzene Exposure Happens
The chemical occurs naturally in crude oil and as a result of forest fires, and it is an ingredient in and product of a number of industrial activities. In addition to being present in oil and gasoline emissions, benzene is used in producing various plastic and rubber products, along with lubricants, solvents, cleaning products, and pesticides.
As exposure can result from contact with the chemical by physical contamination, ingesting it, or breathing it, people working in industrial settings (especially with products that may use benzene in part of the chemical process) are at the highest risk of benzene exposure. Exposure to the chemical is dangerous in any significant amount, including very low quantities if the exposure occurs over a long period of time, such as at the workplace.
The state of Louisiana has seen numerous cases of benzene exposure. Just in the last year, cases have been filed against companies at all levels of the production process, from oil drilling companies to maintenance workers using solvent products that contained benzene. In general, most products that once contained benzene no longer do, because the effects have become clearer as long-term symptoms and conditions have emerged. Even with regulation dating to the first half of the twentieth century, though, benzene exposure is still an issue in certain industrial settings today, and the long-term damages done by exposure to the chemical are still being seen.
The Effects of Benzene Exposure
Exposure to benzene can have a variety of effects, as seen by the recent claims brought up in this state. Individuals working at companies that used benzene in several ways (including for lubricants at a bike shop and as a natural part of processing crude oil) have developed a number of long-term symptoms, including cancer and other significant diseases.
Exposure to this chemical causes cell damage. When a person comes into physical contact with benzene, it can cause blisters and scarring on the skin, and have even worse effects when it comes into contact with the eyes. More commonly, exposure to benzene comes as a result of breathing the vapors of the chemical. Toxicity is transferred to the blood, and the most serious consequences of breathing benzene vapors over long periods of time are serious issues related to the blood.
Leukemia is a cancer of the blood-forming organs, causing blood cells to be created improperly. Other similar diseases and conditions can develop, including mesothelioma and anemia. Each of these conditions involves issues with blood-cell creation, with most affecting the processes by which bone marrow creates new blood cells. As a result of low production of blood cells or the creation of improperly formed blood cells, people suffering from these conditions tend to have symptoms including fatigue, higher rates of infection, frequent bruising, and excessive bleeding.
Because benzene is such a commonly used chemical in the United States, even after decades of regulation, it is important to understand the dangers of benzene exposure, both from short-term contact and over the long run. The time lapse can make it more difficult to connect benzene with resulting illnesses, but many claims have still successfully linked the chemical with a variety of conditions.
If you or a loved one may have been exposed to a toxic chemical such as benzene, please contact us in New Orleans, Louisiana today for a free consultation to discuss your rights and to understand the legal process.