Often used to make chemicals and plastics, benzene is a colourless liquid that is non-corrosive but highly flammable. This liquid can be found in substances such as solvents, petroleum and de-greasers and has a strong, distinctive odour. It can also be found in products such as cigarettes and denture adhesives.
Benzene has been identified as a carcinogen and can be ingested through the breathing in of vapours or through the skin. Many people are at risk of benzene exposure through their occupation, such as gas distributors, refinery workers and pipe fitters.
The symptoms of benzene exposure can differ, and the time that it takes for these symptoms to develop also varies. Some reactions to benzene can be immediate, such as central nervous system toxicity. However, other symptoms have a long latency period and may not show for several decades following exposure. Exposure to benzene has resulted in non-Hodgkin lymphoma, aplastic anaemia and various types of leukaemia.
One of the problems associated with the symptoms of benzene exposure is that they are non-specific symptoms, which can often resemble flu. You may experience fatigue, weakness, weight loss, joint pain, fever, infection, abdominal swelling and pains, and swollen glands. You may also experience abnormal bleeding and excessive bruising.
Due to the dangers and non-specific symptoms of benzene exposure, it is important that you contact your GP and let him or her know if you are concerned. Even if you have not displayed any of these symptoms, it is still worth letting your doctor know of any exposure so that he or she can make a more informed decision should you display any signs of illness. You doctor can also arrange for diagnostic testing, such as blood tests to check for any blood abnormalities.
As with many other toxic and hazardous substances, if you have been affected through benzene exposure you should look at seeking legal assistance. You must do this as soon as possible, as most states have statutes of limitation, which places time restrictions on filing any claims. You should also bear in mind that your lawyer will need to do some thorough research in order to ascertain the facts for a watertight case so the more time that is available the better.Experienced environmental lawyers can access a wealth of resources on your behalf, as well as provide you with legal assistance. Your lawyer will probably be able to provide you with details of support groups and other useful contacts to make things as easy on you as possible.
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