Benzene products are toxic substances that have been linked to an increased risk of disease in humans. Inhaling benzene vapors may cause immediate death, and other workplace exposure to the chemical has been linked to various forms of leukemia, most notably Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML) and Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS).
Table Of Contents
- What is Benzene?
- Benzene Side Effects
- How Are People Exposed to Benzene?
- Who is at Benzene and Cancer Risk?
- What are the Side Effects of Benzene Exposure?
- List of Products that Contain Benzene
- Benzene in Toluene Products
- Benzene in Solvents and Other Products
- Benzene Verdicts and Settlements
- Benzene and the Steel Industry
- Benzene and the Shipping Industry
- Benzene and the Tire/Rubber Manufacturing Industry
- Benzene and Other Industries
- Environmental Protection Agency Reports High Levels of Benzene
- Refinery Worker’s Benzene Suit Alleges Acute Myeloid Leukemia
- Auto Mechanic Files Benzene Cancer Lawsuit in Illinois
- Get a Free Benzene Lawsuit Evaluation With Our Lawyers
What is Benzene?
Benzene is a chemical compound that occurs naturally in the environment and can be manufactured synthetically as well, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. This sweet-smelling chemical compound is colorless or slightly tinged yellow in its liquid form and is extremely flammable.
Considered an aromatic hydrocarbon, benzene products are toxic substances that have been found to cause a wide variety of adverse side effects and complications in individuals who have been exposed to high concentrations of the chemicals for long periods of time.
Benzene Side Effects
The most common ways for individuals to become exposed to benzene-toxic substances is through occupational or environmental sources. Exposure to benzene is typically harmful when individuals are exposed to high levels of the chemical or remain exposed to the chemical for long periods of time.
Harmful short-term exposure to benzene typically occurs in one of three ways. Either the individual has breathed in high concentrations of benzene toxic substances, high levels of benzene have been absorbed through the skin, or benzene has contaminated food that the individual has eaten.
Taking benzene into the lungs through breathing contaminated air can result in dizziness, drowsiness, headaches, confusion, rapid heart rate, and unconsciousness. If the individual is not removed from the affected area within a short period of time, there may be a benzene and cancer risk.
How Are People Exposed to Benzene?
Benzene can cause a wide variety of adverse side effects and complications if individuals are exposed to high concentrations of the chemical or are exposed for long periods of time.
Benzene can occur naturally in the environment when carbon-rich elements are burned but do not burn completely. High concentrations of benzene can be found in the areas around forest fires and volcanoes where carbon-rich materials burn almost constantly.
Who is at Benzene and Cancer Risk?
Occupational Exposure: workers in many industries that produce or use benzene may be at risk for being exposed to this horrible carcinogen. Some of these occupations include:
- Mechanic (auto, marine, aviation, etc.)
- Benzene production (petrochemicals, petroleum refining, and coke and coal chemical manufacturing)
- Tire manufacturing
- Printing industry
- Storage or transport of benzene and petroleum products containing benzene
Environmental Exposure: although long-term benzene exposure normally occurs in the workplace, there have been prior results of industrial discharge, disposal of products containing benzene, and gas leaks from underground storage tanks that have released benzene into our crude oil and water supplies, thus creating environmental benzene exposure limits.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)  has responded to environmental benzene exposure problems by setting the maximum permissible level of benzene in drinking water at 0.005 milligrams per liter (0.005 mg/L). EPA requires that spills or accidental releases into the environment of 10 pounds or more of benzene be reported to the agency immediately.
“There is also some evidence that long-term exposure to benzene might harm reproductive organs. Some women who have breathed in high levels of benzene for many months have had irregular menstrual periods and ovary shrinkage, but it is not known for sure if benzene caused these effects. It is not known if benzene exposure affects fertility in men.” American Cancer Society Stated.
Consumer Exposure: some household products, such as glues, cleaning products, detergents, art supplies, and paint strippers, contain benzene. In addition, there has recently been quite a bit of news surrounding the discovery of benzene in soda and soft drinks.
What are the Side Effects of Benzene Exposure?
There are potential acute (short-term) and chronic (long-term exposure) side effects when a person is exposed. Benzene has been linked to the following:
- Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML)
- Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS)
- Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
- Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia
- Myelofibrosis and Myeloid Metaplasia
- Aplastic Anemia
- Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL)
- Hairy Cell Leukemia
- Multiple Myeloma
- Thrombocytopenic Purpura
- Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (CML)
- Hematologic Cancers
- Other blood-related cancers
- Bladder Cancer
- and more
List of Products that Contain Benzene
- Liquid Wrench
- Rust-Ban 392
- Sunoco Household Oil
- 3-In-One Electric Motor Oil
- 3-In-One Household Oil
- Gardner Blacktop Driveway Sealer
- Gardner EZ STIR Filler Sealer
- Parks Furniture Refinisher
- Parks Adhesive Remover
- Parks Mineral Spirits Paint Thinner
- Parks Lacquer Thinner
- Parks Brush Cleaner
- Parks PRO liquid Paint Stripper
- Parks liquid Strip
- Parks Lacquer Thinner 6/13/97
- Parks Adhesive Remover 9/4/98
- Parks liquid Deglosser 9/4/98
- Gumoutregane Premium Gas Treatment
- Gumoutxtra 1 Tank Carb Cleaner
- Gumouttune Up Spray
- Gumoutcarb/Fuel Injector Cleaner (Aerosol)
- Gumoutcarb/Fuel Injector Cleaner (liquid)
- Gumoutdiesel Fuel System Cleaner
- Gumoutcold Weather Diesel Treatment
- Gumoutliquid Intake Cleaner
- Classic Aerosol Wax
- Champion Carb. Cleaner
- Champion Flush Off Degreaser
- Champion Brake Cleaner
- Champion Cold Galvanize
- Champion Galv Off
- Champion CS+
- Champion N/F 4 Way Penetrating Oil
- Champion Stainless Steel Cleaner
- Champion X It Out Vandal Mark Remover
- Champion Super Lubricant
- Champion Spray Paint
- Champion Flying Insect Killer
- Champion Fire Ant Killer
- Champion Multi Insect/lice Killer
- Champion Indoor Insect Fogger
- Champion Ant & Roach
- Champion Metered Insecticide
- Bonide Grass, Weed & Vegetation Killer
- Ortho Weed-B-Gone
- Staffel’s Screwwork Compound-U.S.
- Formula M 62 Insecticide
- Dr. Rogers Screw Worm Smear Formula No. 62
- Martin’s Formula No. 62 Screw Work Smear for Horses and Mules
- Thoroseal Redi Mix Paint
- VM & P Naptha
- Vehicle emissions
Benzene in Toluene Products
- Toluene + Xylene
- Benzene in Organic Solvents
- Cyclohexanol C
- Hexane C
- Other solvents
Benzene in Solvents and Other Products
- Calibrating Fluid
- Charcoal lighter Fluid
- Contact cements
- C9 Aromatics
- Elastomeric Adhesives
- Hydraulic Fluds
- Ink Markers
- Lacquer Thinner
- Lantern Fuel & Gas Stove
- Leather Black and Stain
- liquid Polish
- Mineral Spirits
- 140* Flash Aliphatic
- 140* Flash Aliphatic: Solvent
- Paste Polish
- Rubber Cement
- Rubber Solvent
- Shell DAN
- Shell Rubber solvent
- Shell Sol Bj-77BG
- Shell Sol BJ-19EG
- Spray Lubricant
- Slop Oil
- Solvasol 2
- Stoddard Solvent
- Unland screen developer
- Varnish Makers
- Vinyl Thinner
- VM & P napthol
- Coke Ovens
PLEASE NOTE: This is not a comprehensive list of products that contain benzene. If you feel you have been injured by exposure to a product that is not on this list, please contact our attorneys to discuss your legal rights. You may be entitled to compensation through the filing of Benzene lawsuits and we can help.
Benzene Verdicts and Settlements
- $3,200,000 verdict – Helper/rigger/leadman on barges diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia AML linked to benzene. Plaintiff was exposed to benzene via solvents used to clean tools including older versions of Liquid Wrench contained high mixtures of benzene.
- $7,500,000 verdict – Gasoline tanker truck driver diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia following years of benzene use at defendant’s premises. Benzene was a component of the fuel that he was loading and hauling.
- $5,834,221.53 verdict – Plaintiff had a 39-year career with Sabine Towing. Throughout his career, the plaintiff held various positions, including seaman, quartermaster, boatswain, third mate, second mate, chief mate, and master. The man was diagnosed with a myeloproliferative disorder, a blood and bone marrow disease, which progressed into chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Plaintiff alleged that he developed the disease as a result of exposure to benzene and benzene-containing products while working for Sabine Towing.
- $8,000,000 verdict – Able-bodied seaman diagnosed with blood-related cancers as a result of exposure to benzene and other hydrocarbons while loading and discharging crude oil and other products, cleaning tanks, and measuring tank levels.
- $3,520,000 verdict – Plaintiff was a contracted tanker truck driver who regularly transported toxic products. As a result, he was regularly exposed to chemicals containing benzene. Plaintiff claimed this exposure led to a diagnosis of myelodysplastic syndrome, which developed into acute lymphocytic leukemia. The decedent died within a year of his diagnosis.
- $1,500,000 settlement – Plaintiff’s decedent had worked as a pump man aboard various tankers in the 1970s and early 1980s, where he was exposed to benzene. In 1994, about 15 years since his last exposure to benzene, the decedent was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia (AML). Prior to and during that 15-year period, the decedent had been a heavy smoker. Plaintiff passed away from AML in 1995. The widow brought suit against the vessel claiming her late husband’s bone marrow cancer was caused by his exposure to benzene while working aboard the tanker. The parties reached a $1.5 million settlement.
- $7,500,000 verdict – CNW and UP railroad trackman developed acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) as a result of long-term exposures to creosote, degreasing solvents, and lead. Railroad failed to provide necessary protective clothing and training.
- $17,498,000 verdict – 48-year-old petroleum inspector diagnosed with acute promyelocytic leukemia while working on ships and barges. Plaintiff brought a product liability (failure to warn) case against refineries. Leukemia in remission at the time of the verdict.
- Undisclosed settlement – from 1965 through 1978, Plaintiff worked at Shell gas stations pumping gas and performing various mechanic tasks on automobiles using Shell Oil products. These products contained benzene. In 2009, Plaintiff was diagnosed with a form of bone marrow leukemia allegedly due to his benzene exposure limits while working for Shell. The parties settled out of court.
Benzene and the Steel Industry
Benzene is a known carcinogen that is produced in oil refineries by burning materials that contain carbon, according to the U.S. Occupational Safety Health Administration.
Coal and coke contain large amounts of carbon, and as their fumes are released into the air during the steel manufacturing process, benzene is produced and released into the environment.
One of the most toxic benzene sources in the steel manufacturing industry is the coking process, which is used to turn coal into coke. During this process, large quantities of coal are burned in order to create the coke that is used to manufacture steel.
When the coal is burned, it releases large amounts of smoke containing benzene into the air. Any individuals that are near this process or can breathe in any of the smoke are simultaneously inhaling benzene.
Benzene and the Shipping Industry
Individuals who work in the shipping and transport industry handle thousands of different products during the course of their employment and in many cases, may not even know exactly what they are transporting other than the name of the product.
Because such an array of products are handled by this industry on a regular basis, many individuals may not realize they have been exposed to high concentrations of benzene until they begin experiencing side effects.
Individuals who drive trucks that transport chemicals containing benzene are at a potentially increased risk of developing complications related to long-term benzene exposure. This is because benzene is released in the fumes of these chemicals, often in significant concentrations.
Benzene and the Tire/Rubber Manufacturing Industry
A large amount of benzene is used in the production of rubber and tires, according to the IARC . People who work in this industry may be at an increased risk of developing severe health complications.
Individuals who work in the shipping/receiving departments of these manufacturing facilities may be at an increased risk for complications from benzene exposure. The products that are used in facilities that contain benzene are typically shipped there in drums transported by trucks.
As many cases of benzene exposure are due to breathing in fumes from products containing benzene, this means that the drivers of the trucks, the individuals who unload the trucks, those who count the number of drums, and the workers that place the drums into storage are all breathing in the fumes escaping from the drums that contain benzene.
Benzene and Other Industries
There are millions of barrels of benzene used by industries in the United States annually and hundreds of millions of products containing benzene are manufactured by other federal agencies across the nation each year.
There are numerous industries in the U.S. that utilize benzene in some form as part of their business. Some of these industries use large amounts of benzene or benzene-containing products on a frequent basis, while others use small amounts every once in a while for minor purposes.
Some industries produce large amounts of benzene or benzene fumes as a result of their manufacturing processes, and some only use benzene-containing agents to clean and maintain their equipment.
Environmental Protection Agency Reports High Levels of Benzene
December 21, 2017 – Anadarko Petroleum Corporation has discovered benzene-contaminated groundwater and soil at a site in Dacono, Colorado, according to a report filed by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC). COGCC discovered the problem while trying to dig up an old pump earlier this month, according to the Denver Post. The commission required Anadarko to remove 200 barrels of contaminated groundwater, and lab tests found benzene levels 900 times the amount allowed by Colorado law.
High Levels of Benzene Found in Toxic Texas City Refinery After Hurricane Harvey
September 11, 2017 – Houston residents trying to return to flooded homes after Hurricane Harvey should wear breathing masks to protect against molds and the carcinogen benzene from the city’s sewers, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is a warning.
After surviving the wrath of Hurricane Harvey and heavy flooding that left thousands of Texas homes inundated, families attempting to get their lives back to normal are facing a new series of threats.
More than 450,000 Texas residents are still either without water or need to boil their water to prevent illness, according to U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration . Affected areas include parts of Houston, where flood waters have not completely receded nearly 2 weeks after the hurricane touched down on the city. Benzene lawsuits should follow.
Refinery Worker’s Benzene Suit Alleges Acute Myeloid Leukemia
July 10, 2017 – A man from Wood River, Illinois, claims that he developed acute myeloid leukemia due to exposure to benzene and other chemicals from the Wood River Refinery and gas companies.
According to the Benzene lawsuit, Plaintiff Dennis Determan lived near the Wood River Refinery from April 1991 to 2011, during which time he was exposed to chemicals.
In March 2017, Determan claims he was diagnosed with AML as a result of chronic exposure to benzene toxic chemicals via inhalation, ingestion, and/or absorption of benzene being emitted, leaked, spilled, dumped and discharged into the air and surface/groundwater by manufacturing plants owned by Rust-Oleum Corporation and Turtle Wax, Inc.
Auto Mechanic Files Benzene Cancer Lawsuit in Illinois
May 19, 2017 – A lawsuit was recently filed in Cook County, Illinois, by an auto mechanic who claims he developed myeloma after being exposed to benzene for years at his job.
According to the lawsuit, Plaintiff Steven J. Williams was frequently exposed to benzene and/or chlorinated hydrocarbons during his 35-year career as an auto mechanic.
Williams’ lawsuit alleges that he was diagnosed with multiple myeloma as a result of prolonged exposure to carcinogens in diesel fuel, parts washer solvent, paint, belt dressings and more.
- American Cancer Society
- American Petroleum Institute
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- National Toxicology Program
- World Health Organization
- International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC)
- Petrochemical Industry
- Highly-regarded nonprofit organizations
- Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry 
- Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) 
- American Cancer Society – Benzene 
See all related toxic tort lawsuits our lawyers covered so far.
Get a Free Benzene Lawsuit Evaluation With Our Lawyers
The Toxic Tort Litigation Group at Schmidt & Clark, LLP law firm is an experienced team of trial lawyers that focus on the representation of plaintiffs in Benzene exposure lawsuits. We are handling individual litigation nationwide and currently accepting new injury and death cases in all 50 states.
Free Case Evaluation: Again, if you were injured by the side effects of benzene toxicity, you should contact our law firm immediately for a free case review. You may be entitled to a settlement by filing a lawsuit and our Benzene Lawyers can help.