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Like asbestos, benzene poses cancer risks to workers

The mineral asbestos and the chemical benzene are vastly different products widely used in industry. What they do have in common is that they are highly toxic to humans. Asbestos is a strong, fibrous, fire-resistant mineral that was widely used in building materials like insulation as well as other applications. In 1897, asbestos was linked to mesothelioma, a rare but deadly form of cancer that develops in the lining of the lungs, chest and other internal organs. It took more than a century for the U.K. to ban the use of asbestos. It is still used in the U.S., though ... Read More

Industry leader calls for higher priority of benzene in Clean Air Strategy

The detrimental health effects of benzene exposure should be central in the U.K’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ (Defra) Clean Air Strategy, said Steve Billingham, chief executive of Duvas Technologies, and reaffirms the importance of mandatory air quality monitoring. Duvas wrote the commentary in Air Quality News, in response to Defra’s call for responses from the industry, environmental NGOs, the health sector and general public, regarding the strategy. The draft mentions several pollutants, “however, there is little mention of other damaging pollutants that may be detrimental to human health if ignored – benzene for example,” Billingham wrote. Benzene ... Read More

Public health advocate urges MA town test environment for benzene

Dr. T. Stephen Jones, a public health consultant epidemiologist retired from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), presented a six-page packet to the Falmouth, Massachusetts, Board of Health hoping to convince board members to send a letter to Gov. Charles D. Baker Jr., to assess the environment based on concerns that nearby natural gas infrastructures are leaking toxic chemicals into the air and endangering the lives of Falmouth residents. “All of us think of natural gas as something that’s just part of life, and we never really gave any thought to the fact that there may be some ... Read More

Woman blames fracking for high levels of benzene in son’s blood

A Denver woman appeared at the Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission meeting and asked them to explain why her 6-year-old son’s blood tested positive for toxic levels of cancer-causing chemicals. “If it isn’t the proximity of 158 wells that are within a one-mile radius of my home and my son’s school, then where would you say this level of exposure to this environmental carcinogen is coming from? Where?” she asked. Elizabeth Ewaskowitz was worried about her son’s health and wondered if the nearby fracking could be a risk to her young child. Fracking is the process of injecting liquid at ... Read More

Industry workers more likely at risk for benzene exposure

Factory workers where steel or rubber is made or processed; workers in the printing industry or who work around printing inks; fire fighters who come in contact with toxic smoke; and workers in gas stations, shoe making or repair, and who work in laboratories may be exposed to the highest levels of benzene. The chemical has been linked to serious health complications, including blood cancers like leukemia, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Benzene is one of the most widely used chemicals in the U.S., and is mainly used as an agent in the manufacturing of other ... Read More

Pregnant women living near natural gas sites have elevated benzene in urine

Twenty-nine pregnant women living near major natural gas well sites in Canada had 3.5 times more benzene byproducts in their urine compared to those not living near the wells, according to researchers with the Université de Montréal. The 14 participants who were native to the area had six times the normal level of benzene in their urine. Benzene is a colorless, flammable liquid that is widely used as an agent in the manufacturing of other chemicals, such as plastics, lubricants, rubbers, dyes, solvents, and as a gasoline additive. It can be released during hydraulic facturing or fracking. Benzene has been ... Read More

Benzene exposure linked to cognitive problems

People exposed to chemical fumes such as benzene at their workplace may suffer from memory and cognitive problems years later, according to a study published in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. For the study, researchers gauged lifetime exposure of more than 2,000 French national utility workers to chlorinated solvents, petroleum solvents, and benzene. Chlorinated solvents are used in dry cleaning solutions, engine cleaners, paint removers and degreasers. Petroleum solvents can be found in carpet glue, furniture polishes, paint, paint thinners, and varnish. Benzene is used to make plastics, rubber, dye, detergents and other synthetic materials. ... Read More

Benzene among dangerous chemicals in water at Marine camp

People serving or residing at the U.S. Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina from the 1950s through the 1980s were potentially exposed to drinking water contaminated with industrial solvents including benzene, a known carcinogen, and may qualify for VA benefits. The Department of Veterans Affairs has linked the chemicals in the water to eight conditions – adult leukemia, aplastic anemia and other myelodysplastic syndromes, bladder cancer, kidney cancer, liver cancer, multiple myeloma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and Parkinson’s disease. Active duty, reserve, and National Guard members who served at Camp Lejeune for 30 cumulative days or more from Aug. 1, ... Read More

Documentary shows struggles of migrant workers exposed to benzene

A documentary screened earlier this month at the Sheffield International Documentary Festival (SIDF) follows the heart-wrenching journey of Chinese migrant workers poisoned by benzene exposure – toxic chemicals used regularly as inexpensive cleaning solutions in China’s smart phone manufacturing processes. The film follows Yi Yeting, who was a healthy, young ex-PLA soldier who excelled in martial arts before he started working for Foxconn in the consumer electronics industry. Now he is struggling to survive leukemia caused by benzene exposure in the workplace while taking on corporate and government interests from his hospital bed in an effort to protect others like ... Read More

Maternal benzene exposure linked to childhood leukemia in offspring

Children whose mothers were exposed to the chemical benzene at the workplace while pregnant are at greater risk of developing leukemia, according to a study published in the journal Environmental International. The link was most pronounced among children younger than 5 years, and with a type of leukemia called acute lymphoblastic leukemia, or ALL. Previous studies have shown a link between childhood household exposure to benzene-containing paints and solvents to childhood leukemia. Some research has even suggested a link between parental benzene exposure in the workplace to childhood leukemia. But the strongest evidence has been a person’s own benzene exposure ... Read More