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Benzene & Your Health

If you have heard the term "benzene" then you might know what it is and what harm it can cause in the environment. Companies use benzene in a host of products but this chemical occurs in the environment naturally. It is a toxic chemical that is why it is important to be aware of the ways benzene can get into your body. It can enter your body through work or even in your drinking water. Overexposure to benzene can have adverse affects on your body in the short term (acutely) or across an extended period of time (chronically). The United States Environmental Protection Agency has rated benzene a Class 'A' carcinogen, which gives insight on how dangerous this chemical really is.

Short Term Exposure

Drowsiness, dizziness, loss of consciousness and headaches are just a few of the neurological affects of overexposure to benzene. Ingestion of larger quantities of benzene can cause convulsions, vomiting and even death. If it gets on your skin, you will see redness or even blisters that appear on the area that has been exposed. A liquid or vapor form of benzene cannot only irritate your skin but also your eyes and can cause respiratory issues. The rate, at which exposure will affect you, depends on how much and how you get exposed to the chemical. Animal testing has been done to show the affects of ingestion and inhalation. As you might suspect, ingesting or having the liquid form on your skin causes a moderate acute toxic exposure. The affect is not as bad when inhalation of benzene vapor occurs and this causes a low acute toxic exposure.

Extended Exposure to Benzene

Benzene exposure over the long term can cause hematological problems or blood related issues. It can adversely affect the tissues that produce blood cells or bone marrow. Long-term exposure produces symptoms like aplastic anemia, excessive bleeding and deficiencies in your immune system and can also affect your chromosomes structurally and numerically.

Benzene the Carcinogen

A carcinogen is a cancer-causing product; in this case benzene is known as a class A carcinogen and is identified as one that will cause cancer to humans after significant exposure has occurred. Anyone who works with benzene and is exposed on a regular basis is more likely to get cancer from it then those who have had limited exposure. The known cancers that are linked to benzene are acute and chronic myelogenous leukemia (AML) or (CML), acute and chronic lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) or (CLL), Hodgkin’s disease, myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), hairy cell leukemia (HCL) and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL).

Affects on Women and Pregnancy

Women that have been exposed to benzene whether through a job or in the home have displayed such affects as unusual menstrual problems and may have experienced a decrease in the size of their ovaries. Studies are still being conducted to assess this and any other affects from benzene exposure to women and their unborn children. A few of the studies indicate that fertility in women can be affected adversely. Pregnant animals that were tested did show damage to the fetus and those affected had babies that were low weight at birth and had bone formation issues as well as problems associated with bone marrow.

Have you been exposed to benzene? Here are some side effects; fatigue, abnormal bleeding, malaise, bruising excessively, feeling weak, low tolerance for exercise, loss of weight, joint and/or bone pain, fever and/or infection, pain or discomfort in the abdomen, spleen, liver, or lymph nodes that are enlarged. Benzene exposure can be serious and life threatening if not identified early enough.

If you work with Benzene you should be aware of the type of exposure you have and take precautions to protect yourself. If you are exposed to Benzene through drinking water you will want to protect yourself by installing a water filter like the Berkey. It purifies the water to remove dangerous chemicals like benzene to below detectable limits. It is not just for benzene but also for any type of dangerous or hazardous chemical that may be floating in your drinking water. Have your water tested today and see what the Black Berkey purification elements can do to save you from exposure to these chemicals and heavy metals.

Reference:

United States Environmental Protection Agency. Basic Information about Benzene in Drinking Water. Retrieved from:

http://water.epa.gov/drink/contaminants/basicinformation/benzene.cfm

Wisconsin Department of Health Services. Benzene. Retrieved from:

http://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/eh/chemfs/fs/benzene.htm

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