Exposure to hazardous materials is a risk for workers in many industries. Certain chemicals can cause serious disease when they are inhaled or ingested, and people may not know they are being exposed until it is too late. Benzene, a compound found in oil and plastic products, is known to cause cancer and other health problems, and it is much more common than one would think.
What is Benzene?
Benzene is colorless and sweet smelling, and typically appears in liquid form, although it can become gaseous. It can be found in oil and gasoline and is used in manufacturing many types of products, including:
- Resins, such as furniture wax
- Nylon and other synthetic materials
- Paints and dyes
There are also several ways that benzene can enter the air, including tobacco smoke, which accounts for about 50 percent of benzene exposure in the United States. Wood smoke, exhaust from motor vehicles, and industrial emissions all release benzene into the air, and products such as paints, waxes, glues, and detergents can cause vapor fumes to accumulate in enclosed spaces.
Benzene can contaminate water supplies and wells if not properly disposed. If underground storage tanks or hazardous waste tanks leak or become compromised in some other way, the contamination can quickly spread. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has declared the maximum benzene level in drinking water to be 0.05 milligrams per liter and warns of the dangers of exceeding this level.
Who Is at Risk?
While anyone can be exposed to benzene in the air or water, workers in certain industries are at a higher risk for dangerous levels of exposure. These include:
- Steel workers
- Plastics manufacturers
- Shoe makers
- Laboratory technicians
- Gas station employees
- Oil refinery workers
- Workers in chemical plants
Health Risks Associated with Benzene
The effects of benzene exposure depend on both the length and level of exposure. Short-term exposure at low levels can cause relatively mild symptoms such as dizziness, drowsiness, headaches, irregular heartbeat, tremors, confusion, or in some cases, unconsciousness; short-term exposure at high levels, however, can be fatal. Ingesting benzene can result in nausea and vomiting, in addition to the other symptoms.
Long-term exposure can result in serious long-term health issues, such as cancer, particularly acute myeloid leukemia and acute non-lymphocytic leukemia, aplastic anemia, damage to the reproductive system, or decreased immune function.
Toxic Tort Lawsuits
Workers who have suffered harm due to benzene exposure can pursue a toxic tort lawsuit. “Toxic tort” refers to cases in which a hazardous substance, such as benzene, has caused an injury or illness. Regardless of the causes of action an injured plaintiff may bring, toxic tort cases are always complex, and require specialized expertise and scientific proof.
Pennsylvania Toxic Tort Lawyers at Williams Cedar Fight for the Rights of Benzene Exposure Victims
If you or a loved one has become ill due to benzene exposure, call the Pennsylvania toxic tort lawyers at Williams Cedar. Our experienced lawyers understand the complexities of toxic tort law and will work tirelessly to hold those responsible for your suffering accountable to obtain you the compensation you deserve. With offices conveniently located in Philadelphia and Haddonfield, New Jersey, we help benzene exposure victims throughout Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and nationwide. Call us today at 215-557-0099 or contact us online for a free consultation.