How dangerous are those fumes? Benzene exposure and leukemia.

Benzene exposure can lead to leukemia and other dangerous and deadly diseases.

Exposure to toxic chemicals can cause injury. In an effort to avoid this danger, steps are taken to protect ourselves and our loved ones. Unfortunately, even with increased awareness of these dangers and attempts to avoid exposure, exposure is not uncommon.

There are two stories in the media that highlight current toxic chemical exposure issues. The first involves a battery recycling plant in Los Angeles, California. The plant closed down after reports of continuing chemical leaks. The chemicals that were leaking into the local environment include benzene. Reports estimate that 10,000 families were exposed.

A second story involves areas impacted by recent weather issues. Numerous sites in the Houston area report leaking millions of pounds of pollutants due to damage caused by recent hurricanes. Although the reports focused on the Houston area, any factory could suffer similar problems after a natural disaster.

Although these stories highlight the dangers of massive, immediate exposure it is important to note that long-term low-level exposure is also very dangerous. This can occur either due to living in a contaminated site or workplace exposure.

The dangers of benzene: What is it and what kinds of injuries result from exposure?

The World Health Organization states that exposure to benzene is a "major public health concern." A number of different prestigious organizations have found that this substance can cause a number of health problems. The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that benzene causes cells to function abnormally. One main example involves bone marrow. If within the body, this chemical can cause bone marrow to stop producing red blood cells. The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has found that exposure to benzene can cause leukemia.

Benzene is a known eye and skin irritant. As such, an issue with skin and eyes is one sign of exposure to the chemical. Symptoms result from inhalation or digestion of the substance. Symptoms of exposure from inhalation include dizziness, headaches, irregular heartbeat, tremors and unconsciousness. At high levels, exposure can be fatal. Symptoms related to consumption are similar but can also include vomiting, stomach irritation and convulsions. Benzene is a volatile substance, meaning it is most often present in the gaseous state. Thus exposure due to inhalation is most likely.

How victims are exposed: Where is benzene?

Benzene is a part of the natural environment. Generally, exposure to naturally occurring benzene is not of concern. Injury commonly occurs through exposure at work. This chemical is extremely common and used in many industries throughout the country. Some examples include petroleum and plastic products.

Exposure: What should victims do?

Those who were exposed to this chemical and have developed leukemia are wise to seek legal counsel. If you are unsure if you were exposed, but were diagnosed with leukemia, lymphoma or myelodysplastic syndromes you may be a victim of exposure to this disease. Contact an attorney experienced in investigating these types of claims to better ensure your legal rights and remedies are protected.