Benzene is a chemical that is formed as a result of incompletely burned natural products. It is found in volcanoes, forest fires, cigarette smoke, gasoline and crude oil. It may be colorless or light yellow and is extremely flammable. According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration, it is a carcinogen.
Benzene is used in the production of tires and rubber. Manufacturers use products that contain benzene as solvents in various steps of the production. The adhesives used to attach soles to shoes contain benzene. Employees that work on these production lines are at a higher risk of complications from inhaling benzene fumes on a daily basis.
Benzene is contained in products used in the printing industry for cleaning and maintaining printing equipment. In addition, ink that is used in printing frequently contains benzene. Benzene is an ingredient of a variety of painting products, such as base and top coat paints, lacquers, spray paints, sealers and stains. Most of these products contain a solvent containing benzene that keeps them in liquid form until they are ready for use. These products are used by consumers as well as professional painters and people who work in auto body repair shops.
Petroleum and oil refineries produce products that contain benzene, such as gasoline, fuel oils and kerosene. They also produce lubricants that are made from crude oil. These products are used by maintenance employees, pipe fitters and electricians. Benzene is also used in the production of asphalt that is used by roofing and paving companies.
Benzene is used in manufacturing chemical and plastic products. Examples include resins, adhesives and synthetic products such as nylon, styrene and Styrofoam. Chemicals manufactured that use benzene include detergents, insecticides, herbicides, pesticides and dyes. Some examples of specific products that contain benzene include Bonide Grass, Weed and Vegetation Killer, Ortho Weed-B-Gone and Formula M 62 Insecticide.
Auto repair facilities use solvents that contain benzene to clean parts such as hydraulic systems, fuel system components and brakes. These benzene- containing solvents dissolve the grease that builds up on these parts and does not harm the metal. They also use lubricants that contain benzene. Examples include WD 40, Gumout Carb Cleaner, Liquid Wrench and Champion N/F 4 Way Penetrating Oil.
Exposure to benzene can cause serious problems by damaging your DNA. High levels can result in benzene poisoning. Symptoms include headaches, dizziness, confusion, drowsiness, tremors and unconsciousness. At extremely high levels it can result in death. Long-term complications, in addition to cancer, can include excessive bleeding and anemia due to its effect on the bone marrow and blood. OSHA has established safety rules for the workplace to reduce exposure to benzene.