Occupations With A High Risk For Benzyne Exposure

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Benzene is a relatively common chemical. It's usually a clear or slightly yellow liquid, but it evaporates into the air very easily, so it often exists as a gas. Benzene is a highly flammable substance, and should be treated with utmost care.

Benzene exposure can result in a myriad of effects. Short-term symptoms of contact with high levels of benzene can include drowsiness, rapid or irregular heartbeat, dizziness, headaches, and unconsciousness. Additionally, benzene can kill people exposed to very high levels of the chemical. Eating or drinking food or beverages contaminated with benzene can have these effects, and can also cause vomiting and convulsions.

Benzene also has many long-term effects. The chemical is a known carcinogen (cancer-causing agent). Inside the human body, it can oxidize to form the highly toxic benzene oxide. This chemical is very difficult to excrete from the body, and can cause many harmful mutations in the DNA of important cells. These mutations can kill bone marrow cells or make red blood cells less able to carry oxygen, causing anemia. The mutations can also cause cells to grow rapidly and uncontrollably, resulting in cancers such as leukemia.

There are a number of different occupations that can have a high risk of benzene exposure; some of the more common ones are discussed below.

Chemical plant workers: This is perhaps the most common type of benzene exposure risk simply because so many industrial chemicals that are manufactured contain some kind of aromatic element to them. Benzene is an important precursor for common synthetics such as nylon, and is used to make many other substances such as rubbers, lubricants and explosives. Employees that work in chemical plants are at a high risk of benzene exposure, via inhalation of the vaporous form and physical contact with the liquid.

Painters: Benzene is sometimes found in paint. Any painter or paint-factory worker who is in regular contact with benzene-containing paint may be at risk of benzene exposure.

Paper/pulp factory workers: The production of paper and pulp sometimes involves the use of benzene. Workers who are involved in the transportation and use of chemicals in the production process are sometimes at risk of exposing themselves to benzene.

Oil refinery workers: Benzene has some applications in the refinement of oil, and for this reason can be associated with refinement plants. Many workers at refinement plants do not realize that they are at risk for benzene exposure and for that reason do not take the proper precautions in order to see if they will be working near benzene, and take the proper safety precautions if it turns out that they are working near some form of benzene.

These are just a few of the many occupations where benzene exposure might be a risk. Workers at many factories, manufacturing plants, and other working areas have the potential for benzene exposure. Additionally, any occupation that involves regular contact with benzene-containing materials such as lubricants, dyes, detergents, or pesticides puts workers at risks for benzene exposure. It's important for workers to know whether or not benzene exposure is a possibility in their workplace. If so, it's critical for them to take advantage of the safety precautions posted at their job sites to ensure that they do not develop benzene-related complications.