Benzene is a chemical that occurs both naturally and through manufacturing processes. It was first identified in the early 1800s, and later became a key ingredient in producing petroleum, solvents, rubber, paints, detergents, plastics, and other materials. Benzene is also found in certain household products, the fact of which is very disturbing, considering that exposure to benzene has now been linked to many serious illnesses, including certain cancers.
How Benzene Exposure Occurs
As early as 1948 the risks of benzene exposure were known. At that time the American Petroleum Institute indicated that no level of the chemical was safe. Since that time the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has classified benzene as a carcinogen. Benzene is particularly notorious in attacking bone marrow, and without treatment can be quite deadly.
Most individuals who suffer diseases related to benzene exposure work in environments where the chemical is used or present. Industrial workers, then, are particularly at risk. Benzene exposure is commonly ingested through inhalation, but can enter the body through skin contact and other means.
Diseases Resulting from Benzene Exposure
Various serious diseases can result from benzene exposure. Cancers are a particular concern, of course, and while in many cases treatment can be effective, there is often no real cure. The more disturbing forms of cancers affect the bone marrow and other areas through which disease can spread systemically.
Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML). This type of leukemia is a bone cancer where cancerous cells are found in the bone marrow and blood. The symptoms are patients with a low cell red blood count, fatigue, shortness of breath, and a pale or sickly complexion.
Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL). This type of leukemia occurs in the lymphocytes and the surrounding bone marrow. Lymphocytes are white blood cells which produce antibiotics and which are vital to the immune system. Symptoms of ALL include shortness of breath, pale or sickly complexion, anemia, fatigue and excessive bruising.
Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (CML). This type of leukemia occurs when the white blood cells are weakened or lessened due to their working overtime defending the body against germs. White blood cells are the type of cells that kill most forms of bacteria and are essential to the correct function of the lymphocytes, which produces the antibodies in the body. CML symptoms develop slowly and also include fatigue, shortness of breath, and sickly complexion.
Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is a disease of the plasma cells in bone marrow. The disease causes abnormal cell growth, which in turn leads to the appearance of tumors. Among the symptoms of this disease are kidney failure, anemia, brittle bones, and infections. If the tumor develops near the spinal column, indeed, the patient may suffer loss of motor skills. Among the most common treatments of multiple myeloma are radiation therapy and bone marrow transplants.
Multiple Myeloma This type of leukemia occurs in the lymphocytes and the surrounding bone marrow. Lymphocytes are white blood cells which produce antibiotics and which are vital to the immune system. Symptoms of ALL include shortness of breath, pale or sickly complexion, anemia, fatigue and excessive bruising.
Aplastic Anemia is also a disease of the bone marrow, and prevents development of new and healthy blood cells. The term “aplastic” refers to a condition of the marrow that results in a substantial reduction of blood cells. The marrow becomes, in effect, empty, and the patient experiences severe weakness and fatigue. Bruising, nose bleeds, headaches, excessive bleeding, and other symptoms result. Aplastic anemia is either acute or chronic. Generally treatment includes medication, blood transfusions, and stem cell transplants.
Myeloplastic Syndromealso creates anemia in the patient, and involves a diminishment of blood cell production.
Myelofibrosis is a disease of the bone marrow, and compromises the marrow’s ability to produce blood cells. One characteristic of the condition is that bone marrow decreases and is replaced by scar tissue.
Sinonasal Cancer – Many cancers have been linked to environmental factors, but sinonasal cancer in particular has been found to occur most particularly in individuals who have been engaged in industrial work. Successful treatment for sinonasal cancer is largely dependent upon catching it in its early stages, but as will be seen, this can be difficult because this form of cancer mimics other, less serious illnesses.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with any of the above illnesses due to prolonged or excessive exposure to Benzene, you might have a legal claim and should contact our Benzene specialists immediately. Remember, time is of the essence. There are strict time limitations in which to bring a claim.
Contact our Benzene hotline at 1-800-722-0765 for a free case evaluation.