When you and your loved ones take a sip of water, spend the day in the yard, or even take in a deep breath of air, the last thing you should be worried about is whether or not you're at risk for exposure to dangerous, cancer-causing chemicals like benzene. Unfortunately, due to the careless actions of major industries, more and more Americans are finding themselves not only suffering from life-altering side effects due to exposure of this carcinogen but are also left to deal with an onslaught of unexpected medical bills when their insurance companies deny their claims.
At Morgan & Morgan, we want to help you hold those responsible industries accountable for polluting the air, water, and ground you live off of and to get you the justice and compensation you deserve for your damages. For over 30 years, our law firm has been dedicated to fighting for the people. Our team of expert attorneys has won over $15 billion for our clients; we want to help you too.
What Is Benzene?
As described by the CDC, benzene is a highly flammable, sweet-smelling chemical that is a colorless or light yellow liquid when at room temperature. Benzene is a hydrocarbon sometimes used as a solvent to cut through grease and dissolve rust, but most commonly, it can be found in crude oil and gasoline—ranking as one of the top 20 chemicals that are made and used here in the United States.
Known Dangers of Benzene Exposure
When it comes to knowing how much danger you and your loved ones are in when it comes to benzene exposure, you deserve to know the facts. According to the National Cancer Institute, there is no safe level of exposure to this harmful carcinogen. Benzene can cause severe illnesses in people who breathe in, eat foods, or drink beverages containing high benzene levels. The following symptoms may develop anywhere from minutes to several hours after exposure:
- Stomach irritation
- Rapid or irregular heartbeat
Along with the symptoms listed above, direct exposure of the skin, eyes, or lungs to benzene can cause tissue injury and irritation. In some cases, short-term exposure to the carcinogen may even lead to death.
With long-term exposure to benzene, victims are more likely to experience damage to their bone marrow, leading to a decrease in red blood cells produced in the body, also known as anemia. Exposure may also cause excessive bleeding and can negatively affect your immune system, leaving you vulnerable to infections. According to the CDC, after months of exposure, women have also been shown to experience irregular menstrual cycles and a decrease in the size of their ovaries.
Research from the Department of Health and Human Services has concluded that benzene causes cancer in humans. Some of the most common forms of cancers are multiple myeloma and myelodysplastic syndrome (myelodysplasia). However, acute myelogenous leukemia has been labeled as the signature disease exclusively linked to exposure to benzene.
If you believe you or a loved one are exhibiting any of the symptoms mentioned, we urge you to seek out immediate help from a medical professional, then to contact our office for help.
How Could I Have Been Exposed to Benzene?
As of late, there have been multiple reports of Benzene contamination in sunscreens from major companies like Johnson and Johnson and other household name brands. You can read more about those cases on our blog here. Aside from sunscreen, there are other ways you or a loved one may have been exposed to the harmful carcinogen. Benzene is a prevalent pollutant, having been found in the air of urban and rural locations. Benzene can be released into the environment through emissions from burning oil and coal, vehicle exhaust, or evaporation from gas service stations, contributing to the background levels of benzene in the ambient air. Those individuals who are employed by the industries that manufacture or use benzene are also at risk for the highest level of exposure.
Along with breathing in the polluted air in your area, you may also be exposed to benzene by drinking contaminated water, ingesting contaminated food, or even using products that may contain benzene as an ingredient. Some of the most common sources to date are detergents, paints, lubricants, glues, gums, inks, art supplies, solvents, many tobacco products, and gasoline. While there are a number of ways benzene can get into your water, air, and soil through everyday household products, there is an even larger culprit responsible for your exposure. Industrial businesses such as those specializing in rubber production, chemical plants, oil refineries, and shoe manufacturing are some of the worst contributors to benzene exposure to the environment.
Some of the most common ways benzene is introduced into the environment through the careless actions of these large industries include, but are not limited to the following:
- Burning fuel.
- Factory discharges.
- Leaching from landfills.
- Disposal of products containing benzene.
- Underground storage tanks leaking or spilling petroleum.
If you believe you or a loved one has been exposed to benzene due to an environmental factor, seek immediate medical attention, then contact our attorney's office.