BENZENE EXPOSURE

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Workers in a number of industrial and maritime settings may be at risk of cancer or a number of blood disorders from exposure to Benzene. 

According to the American Cancer Society

   “Benzene is known to cause cancer, based on evidence from studies in both people and lab animals. The link between benzene and cancer has largely focused on leukemia and other cancers of blood cells.”

In addition to Leukemia, Benzene may cause Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, Aplastic Anemia (AA), Myelodysplastic syndrome, Myelodysplasia (MDS), Multiple Myeloma, and other blood diseases.

WHAT IS BENZENE USED FOR?

Benzene is a very widely used chemical. As the American Cancer Society notes:

   “Benzene is among the 20 most widely used chemicals in the United States. It is used mainly as a starting material in making other chemicals, including plastics, lubricants, rubbers, dyes, detergents, drugs, and pesticides. In the past it was also commonly used as an industrial solvent (a substance that can dissolve or extract other substances) and as a gasoline additive, but these uses have been greatly reduced in recent decades.”

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The number and types of products that may contain benzene are widespread and somewhat surprising. They include:

  • Paint thinners and removers;

  • Adhesives;

  • Printing solvents and other solvents;

  • Carburetor cleaners

  • Brake cleaners

  • Liquid Wrench®

  • Safety-Kleen® washing machines for parts;

  • Paints;

  • Crude oil;

  • Refined petroleum products;

  • Gasoline;

  • Naphtha;

  • Jet fuel;

  • Aviation gas;

  • Lubricants; and

  • other aromatic hydrocarbons.

WHO IS AT RISK FOR BENEZENE EXPOSURE?

As a result of its widespread use, workers in a variety of trades may be chronically exposed to benzene. These trades include: gasoline distribution workers; industrial plant workers who use solvents, installers using glues & solvents; offshore oil rig workers; painters; paper and pulp workers; pesticide manufacturing; plumbers and pipefitters; refinery workers; tankermen and barge workers; dock workers; and truck drivers.

SEAMEN, DOCK WORKERS AND BARGE WORKERS MAY BE ESPECIALLY AT RISK.

Barge workers, tug boat crewmembers, maintenance workers, painters, chippers, welders, tankermen, dock workers, and seamen on chemical, gas or oil tankers are often exposed to benzene fumes as part of their daily work.

Benzene typically causes latent diseases many years after exposure?

The medical community has long known that benzene damages bone marrow. This damage occurs over a long period of time and involves cellular mutations. As a result, it may take up to 40 years for a benzene related disease to be diagnosable. Because it can take so long for Benzene to develop, it is known as a “latent” disease. In essence, once a person has been exposed, it is essentially a ticking time bomb—the exposed person has no idea whether or when a disease will develop.

CAN I OBTAIN COMPENSATION FOR A BENZENE RELATED DISEASE?

If your leukemia or other blood cancer was caused by exposure to benzene or other chemicals containing benzene, you may be entitled to compensation.  If you can identify the product that is the source of your exposure, you may be able to sue that product’s manufacturer or supplier for failing to warn of the hazards of benzene or for incorporating benzene in its product if other alternatives were available.  If you are a land-based worker, you may also have a workers compensation claim against your employer. If you are a barge worker or a seaman, you may also be entitled to compensation under the Jones Act and general maritime law.  

If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with a benzene-related disease such as Leukemia, Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, Aplastic Anemia (AA), Myelodysplastic syndrome, Myelodysplasia (MDS), Multiple Myeloma, or other blood diseases, and you believe that it was caused by benzene exposure, please contact PWHD today at NO COST by calling 757-223-4545 or filling out our online contact form.