What Is Benzene Poisoning, Anyway?

Benzene poisoning is an extremely serious condition that happens after significant exposure to the chemical known as benzene. It is found and created both naturally and artificially in a surprising number of situations.

First, Let’s Take A Look At What It Is.

Benzene is usually a colorless (or sometimes light yellow) liquid hydrocarbon that is used in practically endless varieties of manufacturing, petroleum, and consumer products. The substance is extremely flammable. It even occurs naturally in some cases, such as in crude oil, volcanic emissions, and even forest fires. It is all around us, and that’s problematic because it’s a seriously dangerous carcinogen. Simply put, benzene poisoning causes cancer and a host of other diseases too.

How Does Benzene Poisoning Occur?

People that are exposed to the chemical, either in a place where the chemical is manufactured or in a situation where high levels are present, can absorb benzene and its vapor into their bodies by inhaling the substance. Poisoning can also occur by coming into direct contact with benzene by bodily touch.

The Effects Of Benzene Poisoning Are Numerous.

It can cause all kinds of incredibly serious health problems, from drowsiness and fatigue, to convulsions and vomiting. Headaches, rapid heartbeat, confusion, and unconsciousness are also common symptoms of benzene poisoning. And with significant levels of exposure, death can even occur from benzene poisoning. Long term exposure to benzene is known to cause immune system diseases, blood diseases, and many forms of cancer, including leukemia and lymphoma.

How Could I Be Exposed To Benzene?

Even though most cases of benzene poisoning occur for those working in industries involving rubber, lubricants, the manufacturing of plastics, dyes, pesticides, detergent, and petroleum products, benzene exposure can occur in many other ways too. Automotive exhaust and other smog causing components are likely to contain significant levels of benzene. The same goes for the contaminated air at gas stations from the benzene found in the fuel. Tobacco smoke is also a very significant source of benzene exposure.

Is There Any Way To Avoid Benzene Poisoning?

Obviously, avoiding benzene exposure altogether is the best way to prevent any type of benzene poisoning or other long term benzene related diseases and conditions. Unfortunately, avoiding benzene completely is no easy task, especially for those who work around it every day. If contact with benzene does occur, there are emergency steps that should be taken, including but not limited to getting fresh air immediately, removing all contaminated clothing, washing as quickly as possible with soap and water, and seeking further medical attention.

Again, if you believe you’ve experienced benzene poisoning to any degree at all, it’s best to seek immediate medical attention.