Benzene exposure is something that has happened to people for many years, but it hasn’t been until more recently that the negative side-effects of benzene have been truly exposed. As a major chemical in American manufacturing, benzene exposure is sadly common.
However, people don’t always appreciate what it means to have been in contact, either directly or through airborne particles, with benzene. For those that have had exposure, the health ramifications can be vast, and largely unpleasant.
Benzene is one of the 20 most common chemicals used in global manufacturing. It is typically used and seen in the creation of gasoline, and is a common ingredient in flammable chemicals. It is also present in cigarette smoke. Benzene can easily become airborne, and does not take a large amount to cause exposure.
Benzene is now regulated, and close attention is paid to Benzene by the EPA and the American Cancer Society. Even with the modern safety measures in place to block benzene exposure, it still happens at a fairly alarming rate, and can even happen outside of a factory.
While people can be exposed to benzene in the workplace, you can come into contact with benzene at the gas pump. Inhaling gasoline fumes, or worse yet, having direct contact with gasoline on bare skin, is more than enough to cause benzene contamination.
For those that work in a factory, it is not uncommon to be exposed to benzene as a by-product of your job. On top of this, if you are around people who smoke, benzene is found in second-hand smoke, and is a common chemical found with nearly every brand of cigarette.
Benzene and Cancer
There are still studies taking place to determine what forms of cancer are actually enhanced by benzene exposure, but the most common form is leukemia. On top of this, lung cancer and skin cancer can also form from repeated exposure, and the chemical has been linked to a variety of other illnesses, as well.
Long- and Short-term Effects
Short term effects of benzene exposure can include, but of course are not limited to, vomiting, dizziness, nausea, disorientation, rashes, and sickness. Benzene has been known to make people throw up, and if you get any on your skin, it can not only damage you where you were touched, but it can seep into your skin from minimal contact and cause illness that can last for days.
In the long term, benzene can cause cancer, asthma, and excessive bleeding due to a low white blood cell count. This can lead to other serious medical concerns, and can compound things when it comes to diseases of the blood.
Preventing exposure to benzene is difficult in many cases, as the world runs on gasoline. If you are especially trying to avoid it, look for gas pumps that have a fume vent to collect benzene emissions. Also, be careful when pumping gas, and if possible, try to wear protective clothing, such as long sleeves, or gloves.
If you suspect that you may be exposed to benzene in the air, try to avoid it via a mask if possible. If you find yourself around smokers, try to get away as quickly as you can. It does not take a large amount of benzene to cause problems, and you might not feel the short term effects immediately, but they will come if you get enough exposure.
Benzene is common, and it is deadly. Do research to learn how to avoid benzene contact in your life, and what you can do to remain healthy. Remember, it only takes a little bit for things to get bad quickly so stay safe, and as always, be especially careful about what you breathe.