Benzene Exposure | Benzene Lawyer
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Legal Representation for Victims of Workplace Benzene Exposure
Benzene is a known carcinogen, which means it can cause specific types of cancer. Workers exposed to significant quantities of benzene are at risk for certain illnesses and may be eligible for compensation. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), benzene ranks in the top 20 chemicals for production volume. In addition, exposure to benzene can occur on many levels. Unfortunately, far too many employers do not follow the proper safety procedures to protect their employees from benzene and other harmful substances. If you or a loved one is suffering from illness after benzene exposure, contact The Carlson Law Firm. We have an expert benzene lawyer who is ready to evaluate your case.
Our firm has more than 40 years of experience representing victims of toxic chemical exposure. Companies have a responsibility to ensure that employees are protected from toxic chemical exposure at all times. If that does not occur then it is in your best interest to retain a qualified attorney to look into your case and represent you. An experienced benzene lawyer from The Carlson Law Firm will handle your case with compassion and care as we pursue a fair recovery for you. Contact us for a free consultation. Above all, we will advocate for your rights and hold the right parties accountable for your illnesses.
What is Benzene?
Benzene is a colorless sweet-smelling liquid used to cut grease and dissolve rust. It is a highly flammable liquid commonly used in maintenance and repair work in the home, as well as commercial and industrial environments. Benzene evaporates quickly when exposed to air—making it easy to inhale. Although benzene occurs naturally in volcanoes and forest fires, most human exposure comes from human activities through working with the chemical. Work involving plastics, lubricants, rubbers, dyes, detergents, drugs and pesticides puts employees at risk of inhaling the chemical. Benzene is among the most commonly used chemicals in the United States. In fact, the chemical is so common that it ranks in the top 20 chemicals for production volume.
What Products Contain Benzene?
In addition to workplace exposure, benzene is contained in several household products. Those products include:
- Motor fuels
- Nylon and synthetic fibers
Benzene also occurs naturally in crude oil, gasoline, and vehicle exhaust. Because of this, workers in the oil industry at increased risks of inhaling the substance. If you worked in the oil or refinery industry and have now developed a benzene-related illness, contact The Carlson Law Firm to speak with a qualified benzene lawyer today.
How Does Benzene Affect the Environment?
Industrial processes are the main source of benzene in the environment. The toxic substance can pass into the air from water and soil. In addition, benzene can attach to rain or snow which then carries the toxic substance back to the ground, creating a cycle. Although the chemical is easily broken down in the air by other chemicals, it is a much slower process in soil. The substance can then pass from the soil into underground water resources.
What Effect Does Benzene Have on the Body?
Benzene causes cells in the body not to work properly. For example, it can cause bone marrow not to produce enough red blood cells. In some cases, this can lead to anemia. Additionally, it changes the way the body’s immune system produces blood levels of antibodies and causing the loss of white blood cells. The seriousness of poisoning caused by benzene depends on the amount, route and length of time of exposure. Further, the age and any pre-existing medical conditions should be taken into account.
Additionally, exposure disrupts cell function in a number of ways. Even short-term exposure can cause serious side effects. For example, it can cause bone marrow to produce fewer red blood cells, leading to anemia. It can also change the levels of antibodies in your blood, reducing the overall number of white blood cells. These effects damage the immune system and increase your chance of getting an infection. Benzene may reduce the platelet count in your blood, which leads to excessive bleeding.
Immediate Signs and Symptoms of Benzene Exposure
Breathing in high levels of benzene may lead to the following signs and symptoms within several minutes to several hours:
- Rapid or irregular heartbeat
Eating foods or drinking beverages containing high levels of benzene can cause the following symptoms within minutes to several hours:
- Irritation of the stomach
- Rapid or irregular heartbeat
If a person vomits because of swallowing foods or beverages containing benzene, the vomit could be sucked into the lungs and cause breathing problems and coughing. In addition, when the eyes are exposed to benzene can lead to tissue injury and irritation. Benzene exposure is a very serious matter. If you or a loved one is living with an illness from benzene exposure in the workplace contact a benzene lawyer immediately. We can help you get the compensation you deserve.
Long-term Health Effects of Exposure to Benzene
Benzene exposure over long periods of time (a year or more) has major effects on the blood. Long-term exposure to this toxic chemical can cause very serious illnesses, and may eventually lead to death. Illnesses linked to long-term benzene exposure include:
- Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML, almost exclusively caused by benzene exposure)
- Multiple Myeloma
- Myelodysplastic Syndrome/Myelodyplasia
- Non Hodgkin Lymphoma
If you or a loved one is suffering from benzene caused illness from long-term exposure, contact The Carlson Law Firm. We have a qualified Benzene lawyer who can help you navigate the complex legal system. You do not have to face the mounting medical bills and other damages alone. Our firm can help you get the recovery you deserve.
Benzene Exposure and Cancer
Although benzene is known to cause multiple adverse health effects, benzene exposure is most associated with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). This is because rates of leukemia, particularly AML, are found in higher levels in workers exposed to high levels of benzene. For example, those who work in shoe or chemical factories, as well as oil refineries are at increased risks of developing leukemia.
As we have established, benzene primarily affects the blood in those with long-term exposure. Leukemia is a malignant progressive disease in which the bone marrow and other blood-forming organs produce increased numbers of immature or abnormal leukocytes. The suppression of creating new, normal blood cells leads to anemia and other symptoms.
Because of its link to leukemia, the Internation Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) designated benzene as a carcinogen. This is based on sufficient evidence linking the chemical with multiple types of leukemia. In addition, several U.S. agencies have linked benzene exposure to leukemia and classified the substance as a carcinogen.
Types of Cancers in Benzene Lawsuits
Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL):
Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia, also called Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, is a cancer that starts from the early version of white blood cells called lymphocytes in the bone marrow (the soft inner part of the bones, where new blood cells are made). The term “acute” means that the leukemia can progress quickly, and if not treated, would probably be fatal within a few months. There are actually two forms of the disease, one which occurs in adults and one which occurs in children. Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia accounts for about 90% of leukemia in children, but only about 20% of leukemia in adults. It is generally accepted by the medical and scientific communities that benzene causes Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia.
Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML):
Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) has many other names, including acute myelocytic leukemia, acute myelogenous leukemia, acute granulocytic leukemia, and acute non-lymphocytic leukemia. Leukemia is cancer of the white blood cells. White blood cells help your body fight infection. Your blood cells form in your bone marrow. In leukemia, however, the bone marrow produces abnormal white blood cells. These cells crowd out the healthy blood cells, making it hard for blood to do its work. In Acute Myeloid Leukemia, there are too many of a specific type of white blood cell called a myeloblast. Various studies show that exposure to the chemical Benzene over a long period of time increases your chances of developing Acute Myeloid Leukemia.
Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL):
Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL) is a type of cancer of the blood and bone marrow — the spongy tissue inside bones where blood cells are made. The term “chronic” in Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia comes from the fact that it typically progresses more slowly than other types of leukemia. The term “lymphocytic” in Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia comes from the cells affected by the disease — a group of white blood cells called lymphocytes, which help your body fight infection.
Chronic lymphocytic leukemia most commonly affects older adults. According to the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion of the Centers for Disease Control, the incidence of Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL) in the United States is about 4 cases per 100,000 population.
Many epidemiologic studies have been conducted of benzene-exposed workforces. While the strongest causal association found in these studies is for benzene and Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML), a causal association has also been found for CLL based upon several studies.
Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (CML):
Chronic Myeloid Leukemia is a rare form of leukemia. CML is also known as chronic myelogenous leukemia. It’s a type of cancer that starts in certain blood-forming cells of the bone marrow. In CML, a genetic change takes place in an early (immature) version of myeloid cells — the cells that make red blood cells, platelets, and most types of white blood cells (except lymphocytes). This change forms an abnormal gene called BCR-ABL, which turns the cell into a CML cell.
Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is a type of blood cancer that affects lymphocytes (white blood cells), which are an important part of the immune system. Because lymphocytes circulate throughout most of the body, Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma can occur nearly anywhere in the body. Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is a blood cancer that is associated with workplace exposure to cancer-causing chemicals, such as benzene, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and Roundup (glyphosate). Every year, approximately 70,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with this cancer, and in many cases are caused by carcinogens. Out of 43 studies of causes of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, 93% found that workplace exposure to benzene was associated with an increased risk of Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Where does Benzene Exposure Occur?
Benzene is a naturally occurring chemical that can be found outdoors in low levels from tobacco smoke, gas stations, motor vehicle exhaust and industrial emissions. On the other hand, indoor air generally contains high levels of benzene that outdoor air from the vapors and gases of indoor products. Benzene exposure indoors comes from products that contain benzene such as glues, paints, furniture wax, and detergents.
Workers in industries that make or use benzene may be exposed to this chemical. These include:
- Rubber industry
- Oil refineries
- Chemical Plants
- Shoe Manufacturers
- Gasoline-related industries
Other people who risk workplace exposure to benzene include steel workers, printers, lab technicians, gas station employees, and firefighters. Federal regulations limit exposure to benzene in the workplace.
Can Benzene Affect Children?
Yes. Children can be affected by benzene exposure in the same way that adults can. However, the research is unclear if children are more susceptible to benzene poisoning than adults. In addition, children are also at risk of been exposure while in utero. The chemical can pass from the mother’s blood to the fetus. Animal studies have shown low birth weights, delayed bone formation, and bone marrow damage when pregnant animals breathed in benzene.
How Can I Reduce Benzene Exposure?
Reducing benzene exposure and in the home is necessary for those hoping to live healthy lives. There are several ways you can limit your exposure in the workplace and in the home.
Limiting Benzene Exposure in the Workplace
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) limits the amount of airborne benzene exposure for employees 1 part per million (1 ppm) for an 8-hour workday. On the other hand, the maximum exposure for short-term limits is set at 5 ppm for any 15-minute period.
OSHA also requires employees to weird protective clothing and equipment when handling the substance. Respirators are required for those workplaces where “engineering controls are not feasible to reduce exposure to the permissible level.” Respiratory must have the approval of both the Mine Safety and Health Administration and the National Institute for Occupation Safety and Health (NIOSH). Further, depending on which comes first cartridges and canisters must be replaced after every shift change or at the end of their lifespan.
Coupled with proper the protection, your employer must also properly train you on the proper use of your assigned respirator.
In addition to the proper safety equipment and training, your employer must provide you with the proper protective clothing. For example, boots, gloves, sleeves and aprons are necessary to limit your skin’s exposure to the chemical. Similarly, your employer should you provide with protective, splash proof eyewear or safety goggles.
OSHA’s Chemical Exposure Effectiveness Measures
Because employers have a responsibility to keep their employees safe from toxic chemicals, OSHA created the chemical exposure effectiveness measures chart. The chart details the effectiveness of exposure prevention from least to most effective.
Elimination or Substitution
First, as demonstrated by the graph, elimination and substitution is the ideal prevention method. An example of eliminating or substituting is transitioning to a safer chemical for employees to handle.
The second tier in the order of preventing exposure to toxic chemicals. This involves implementing a physical change in the workplace which eliminates or reduces the hazards during an employer’s task. As a result, employers can change the process to minimize contact with toxic chemicals, isolate or enclose the process, use film hoods and other strategies.
Administrative and Work Practice Controls
Moving down the list, when a company implements administrative and work practice controls establish efficient process or procedures. For example, this can include rotating job assignments or adjusting employee schedules to avoid overexposure to toxic chemicals.
Personal Protective Equipment
And finally, protective clothing and equipment is the most basic preventive measure. This safety measure requires employees handling toxic materials to wear something to limit exposure. Examples include eyewear, gloves, respiratory protection or chemical protective clothing.
If your employer failed to implement safety measures to protect you from maritime toxic chemical exposure, contact The Carlson Law Firm to speak with a qualified offshore cancer lawyer.
Limiting Benzene Exposure in the Home
In reality, environmental exposures outside of the workplace are much lower. However, if you are concerned about benzene exposure in the home then there are few steps you can take to avoid exposure. For starters, stay away from cigarette smoke, as cigarette smoke is a major source of benzene exposure. Consequently, smokers are exposed to nearly 10 times the level of benzene as nonsmokers. And, finally, always use common sense around any chemicals that might contain benzene, such as only using solvents, paints and art supplies in well-ventilated spaces.
If benzene exposure occurred in your workplace, you may have a case against your employer. Contact a benzene lawyer today to discuss your case. It is important that you act immediately, as the clock on the statute of limitation begins the moment your illness was diagnosed.
How a Benzene Lawyer From The Carlson Law Firm Can Help
Working in an industry where benzene exposure limits are high can lead to cancer. If you worked for a company that failed to provide you with the proper protections from contact our firm today. We have qualified benzene lawyer ready to take on your case. Lawsuits against your workplace are complicated matters that require the expertise of an attorney. This is not something you should take on alone. However, The Carlson Law Firm has the resources to be there for you every step of the way. Moreover, our dedication to our clients gets the results clients need to move forward with their lives.
The Carlson Law Firm is has a staff of nationally recognized specialists and research associates who have the proven ability to help you through your current legal matter. We serve clients throughout the nation. If you, or someone you loved, suffered injury due to exposure, we can help. We offer:
- Board-Certified Specialists
- Award-Winning Legal Experts
- Experienced Research Team & Support Staff
- Convenient Office Locations Near You
- Proven Results Since 1976
- Responsive & Reliable Communication
- Recovered Millions of Dollars
- Home & Hospital Visits for Your Convenience
The Carlson Law Firm has devoted decades to protecting the rights and futures of injured victims and families. The Carlson Law Firm is here to help and listen. Call today for a FREE case review.