Benzene is a naturally occurring substance that is especially prevalent in volcanic reactions and forest fires. However, it is also becoming a natural part of the production process in much of American’s industrial manufacturing, including crude oil, gasoline, tires, glues, paints, furniture wax, and detergents. It is even released in motor vehicle emissions, burning coal and oil, and at gas stations. Indeed, even some soft drinks are said to contain trace, and sometimes unattributed, amounts of benzene. However, this colorless or yellow, sweet smelling liquid, may be a deceptively dangerous carcinogen, primarily blamed for a number of types of leukemia.
Risks and Symptoms of Benzene
It has been determined that there are a number of side effects from exposure to more than small amounts of benzene. They may appear within minutes or hours of exposure, and can often be detected by testing the blood, breath, or urine. Testing must be done immediately, however, since benzene converts to metabolites shortly after exposure. Some of the side effects include:
- Dizziness or confusion
- Eye, skin, and respiratory tract irritation
- Irregular or rapid heartbeat
- And in worst cases, unconsciousness or even death
When benzene is consumed through food or drinks, some symptoms are likely to appear immediately, others within hours:
- Vomiting and stomach irritation
- Dizziness and drowsiness
- Irregular or rapid heartbeat
For those who experience long-term exposure to benzene, there can be more serious effects, including:
- Blood disorders
- Damage to the female reproductive system
- Bone marrow damage
- Excessive bleeding
- Damage to the immune system
The most common result of prolonged exposure to benzene in the air is believed to be Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML). It is usually first detected by flu-like symptoms. Some claim that benzene exposure can also cause a less common form of leukemia, Acute lymphocytic leukemia. Without the proper treatment, this can become a life-threatening illness.
Benzene Claims and Lawsuits
While a direct relationship between benzene exposure and the various forms of leukemia has not yet been proved, there have been many lawsuits filed by victims hoping to recover compensation for their costs and pain and suffering. Generally, only those who have had sustained exposure through a work environment are considered susceptible to the most dangerous consequences. In most cases, it is claimed that those merely living in the vicinity of any type of exposure to benzene will not be susceptible to serious side effects and, therefore, not eligible to file claims.
Legal Help from a Lawyer
Those who believe they have contracted leukemia or other serious side effects from benzene exposure should contact one of the numerous personal injury lawyers who have experience filing benzene claims. They can help determine if they have a have a case for a personal injury claim, as long as they are contacted and able to file before the statute of limitations in their state runs out.