Benzene Exposure

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What Is Benzene?

Benzene is a chemical compound that was once viewed as a miracle substance because of its flammability and ability to dissolve in water. It was frequently used as an additive in gasoline and liquid detergents, but was also used by manufacturers for the production of plastic, rubber, and household products. Paint, glue, and automobile exhaust all contain benzene. Along with being a useful and practical chemical, scientists have found it to be highly toxic when ingested or inhaled. Moreover, researchers have begun to study the effects of long-term exposure to benzene on the human body. They found that prolonged exposure was closely linked to many forms of leukemia. Because the onset of benzene-related leukemia typically occurs after a long period of time, and because high levels of exposure to benzene often occurs on a job site, it is considered an occupational disease. Those most at risk include rubber manufacturers, plastic manufacturers, printers, painters, certain types of mechanics, chemical workers, and even truck drivers, because the chemical is found in car exhaust. Any other individuals that come into contact with the compound on a regular basis are likely to experience its side effects as well.

What Are the Most Common Health Risks Linked to Benzene?

Short-term health side effects include:

Shortness of breath
Chronic headaches

Long-term exposure to Benzene has been proven to be more detrimental. Diseases associated with the chemical include:

Acute Myelogenous Leukemia
Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia
Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia
Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia
Hairy Cell Leukemia

While different strands vary slightly, all forms of leukemia usually begin in the bone marrow of an individual, causing defects in blasts, or underdeveloped white blood cells. Cell division occurs rapidly, and a single mutated blast reproduces quickly, forming unhealthy white blood cells. Over time, this uncontrolled growth of cancer cells prohibits the generation of healthy ones. White blood cells play a primary role in the human immune system. They serve to fight off infections and destroy foreign toxins deemed as threatening to the body. With limited healthy white blood cells, an individual with this disease stands little chance of survival without treatment, because he or she cannot fend off illnesses the way a healthy individual can. Everyday ailments such as the common cold and the flu pose life-threatening complications for individuals afflicted with leukemia.

Legal Action

Although more safety regulations have been enforced relative to benzene in the workplace, these kinds of precautions did not exist until as late as the 1980s. Benzene was first studied and documented as a harmful substance as early as the 1940s. However, because of the lack of general knowledge about its toxicity, manufacturers continued to expose employees to the chemical without taking safety measures to protect them. Eventually, as more cases of leukemia began to rise to the surface, more and more lawsuits were brought to protect the rights of workers. Today, workers exposed to these elements are seeking compensation for medical costs and suffering endured.

In order to make legal claims, you must first contact a lawyer to represent you. The best individuals to contact are toxic tort attorneys. They specialize in benzene lawsuits, ensuring your rights are represented and upheld. Many attorneys offer free consultation services, during which they will review your case. Depending on experience and the severity of your claims, some attorneys impose their fees only after a lawsuit has been won. Be sure to gather all relevant documents to be taken to your attorney, including all medical records, employment information and history, medical bills, and other information your attorney requests. Using these materials, your attorney can help you file a complaint. More importantly, working with an attorney ensures that a fair and reasonable settlement is reached.