New technology helps detect benzene in workplace

benzene toxic fume warning sign shutterstock 432752080 303x210 New technology helps detect benzene in workplaceUV Spectroscopy is becoming a popular technology for monitoring benzene concentrations in the biochemical industry in an effort to protect employees from the detrimental effects of benzene exposure, which can lead to an aggressive form of leukemia, Engineer Live reports.

More than 54,000 cases of leukemia were diagnosed in 2015, 20,000 of which were a type known as acute myeloid leukemia, or AML, according to the American Cancer Society. In many cases, this deadly disease could have been prevented.

The Toxic Substance and Disease Registry linked the development of AML to recurrent exposure to benzene, a chemical widely used to make industrial chemicals. It is also found naturally in crude oil, as well as in the air, water and soil.

More than 238,000 people are occupationally exposed to benzene every day, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. In fact, high levels of benzene have been found in 1,000 of the 1,684 most serious hazardous waste sites in the country.

Brief exposure to high levels of the chemical can cause death. Lower levels can cause dizziness, vomiting and unconsciousness. Long-term exposure to lower levels of benzene can also have adverse effects on a person’s health.

Over time, benzene can affect the production of red blood cells, which lowers the immune system and can lead to anemia, and result in the blood cancer AML. The United States stipulates what it considers “safe” levels of benzene in various scenarios as part of the Clean Air Act. Under this law, chemical engineering industries are required to monitor and report on ambient levels of the chemical both inside and outside site parameters.

UV Spectroscopy is an alternative solution that refers to the absorption spectroscopy in the ultraviolet-visible spectral region. Every type of gas absorbs UV radiation along its own unique band of the spectrum, which enables the technique to precisely identify the concentration of the gases present. And not just benzene, but also other gases including nitrogen dioxide.

“While the impact of over-exposure can be catastrophic, fortunately the technology is available to identify levels early and implement immediate change to eliminate the negative consequences,” Engineer Live reported.

Source: Engineer Live