Acute Myelogenous Leukemia Lawyer
A colorless liquid with a sweet odor, benzene, or benzol, is an organic chemical compound with potentially deadly consequences. As a known carcinogen, benzene exposure can lead to several forms of cancer, including acute myelogenous leukemia, or AML. Short-term effects include skin irritation, nausea and anemia.
Despite exposure limits, many industries in the United States expose their workers to the dangerous chemical, including oil refineries, chemical plants, oil and gas wells and steel mills. Benzene is a by-product of the coke-making process, putting employees who work with or near the coke batteries at higher risk. Because it’s a powerful solvent, industrial facilities will use it to clean and degrease large pieces of machinery.
Benzene ranks as one of the top 20 chemicals in the United States based on its production volume, with workers in industries that use or manufacture benzene threatened with the highest benzene exposure levels. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), National Toxicology Program (NTP) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have conducted studies and concluded benzene is carcinogenic to humans. Cases show workers developing and dying from leukemia with less than five years exposure to more than 30 years.
Some of the earliest uses for benzene involved common household items. The sweet odor led to its use as after-shave lotion in the late 19th century. The turn of the 20th century saw the chemical used to decaffeinate coffee. Reports from 1897 describe benzene as a bone marrow poison given those who worked near it, specifically in dry cleaning and bicycle tire manufacturing, experienced blood-related illness, including anemia.
The fist major use as a solvent in the rubber industry began in the early 1900s and increased when toluene was used to manufacture various explosives in World War I. post-war, it was used as a solvent in many additional areas, including rubber goods, paint, adhesives, dry cleaning, petroleum products, blending of motor fuels, coatings and automobile manufacturing. Today, benzene is widely used to develop other chemicals used to produce plastics, polymers, adhesives and synthetic fibers.
Benzene Industries and Professions
- Paper/pulp factory workers
- Chemical plant workers
- Oil refinery workers
- Gasoline-related industries
- Rubber Industry
- Shoe manufacturers
- Dry cleaning
Products such as glues, furniture waxes, detergents, and paints may contain benzene and during use, may release it in gases or vapors. Often, workers are exposed at their jobs in industries that make or usebenzene. Water may become contaminated with benzene when underground storage tanks from hazardous waste sites are damaged and begin leaking.
When exposed, benzene disrupts the normal functions of cells and causes them to malfunction. It prevents the bone marrow from making enough red blood cells and changing the levels of antibodies to the point of losing white blood cells. With both short- and long-term effects, benzene poisoning can have different results depending on an individual’s exposure levels and medical histories.
Injuries Caused by Benzene: Cancer, Anemia
Benzene evaporates quickly, is highly flammable and is dangerous to people if ingested. Breathingbenzene causes drowsiness and dizziness, and can result in unconsciousness. Given high enough concentrations, even short term breathing in of benzene can have serious consequences, including death. Ingesting benzene through food or drink laced with high levels of the chemical compound can cause stomachache, vomiting, sleepiness, convulsions and death.
Long-term exposure to benzene negatively affects the bone marrow and can cause a decrease in red blood cells resulting in anemia, excessive bleeding, and decreased immune response. Benzene is also a known carcinogen and its effects on the bone marrow can result in leukemia, specifically acute myelogenous leukemia or AML.
Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML)
A fast growing cancer of the blood and bone marrow, acute myelogenous leukemia affects the development of white blood cells that normally fight off infection. Because they do not develop normally, the unformed cells – called blasts – are unable to fight infection, compromising the body's immune response, which can lead to frequent infections and fever. AML may also affect the production of red blood cells and platelets.
As the abnormal leukemia cells crowd out the normal ones, the jobs healthy cells complete are compromised: red blood cells fail to carry oxygen needed throughout the body and platelets fail to control bleeding.
More than 10,000 cases of acute myelogenous leukemia are diagnosed in the US each year, making it a relatively rare cancer. It is an aggressive cancer, and is typically fatal within weeks or months if left untreated. Treatments may include chemotherapy, bone marrow transplant, and/or cord blood transplant.
Studies examining leukemia diagnosis in workers exposed to benzene find higher rates of AML, including those who worked in the oil refining, chemical and shoemaking industries. Additional studies link childhood leukemia, chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL), multiple myeloma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma to benzene exposure, but the connection is not as strong.
Individual Benzene Exposure
While workers face the highest risk of benzene exposure on the job, other exposures may occur. Half of the national exposure of benzene is a result of tobacco smoke, making cigarettes and second hand smoke incredibly dangerous. A room where tobacco smoke is present can contain much higher levels ofbenzene than recommended. The exhaust from vehicles, as well as gas stations and industrial sites can release benzene into the air. Residential areas near fracking sites can experience increased benzeneexposure levels in the air and water.
Toxic exposure to benzene can have devastating consequences on both the victim and their family. If you or a loved one have been affected by benzene poisoning, please contact one of our toxic tort attorneys today. Our benzene lawyers have helped many people negligently exposed and harmed by these toxic fumes.
Latest Benzene News
- High Levels of Benzene Found in E-Cigarettes
- Friday, March 17th, 2017
- New EPA Proposal Requires Gas Plants to Publicly Report Toxic Emissions
- Tuesday, January 10th, 2017
- What to Know About Benzene Exposure at the Workplace
- Thursday, July 28th, 2016
- Revised Toxic Chemical Restrictions Could Triple the Amount of Benzene in Florida Waters
- Monday, June 13th, 2016
- GPW to relocate after nearly three decades on Fifth Avenue
- Wednesday, September 30th, 2015
For more information
- Facts About Benzene - CDC <http://www.bt.cdc.gov/agent/benzene/basics/facts.asp>
- American Cancer Society, “What is benzene?” (2013). [Link]
- Centers for Disease Control, “Facts about benzene,” (2013). [Link]
- Environmental Protection Agency, “Benzene,” (2013). [Link]
- Occupational Safety & Health Administration, “Benzene.” [Link]
- World Health Organization, “Exposure to benzene: A major public health concern,” (2010). [Link]
Contact Us: 1-800-471-3980
Questions? Comments? Need Legal help? Contact us today.