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Benzene Exposure Risks at Home & Work

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Published on Jul 5, 2013

Benzene is a colorless liquid with a sweet odor. It evaporates into the air very quickly and dissolves slightly in water. It is highly flammable and is formed from both natural processes and human activities.

Benzene is widely used in the United States and ranks in the top 20 chemicals for production volume. Some industries use benzene to make other chemicals which are used to make plastics, resins, and nylon and other synthetic fibers. Benzene is also used to make some types of rubbers, lubricants, dyes, detergents, drugs, and pesticides. Natural sources of benzene include emissions from volcanoes and forest fires. Benzene is also a component of crude oil, gasoline, and cigarette smoke.

Industrial processes are the main source of benzene in the environment and it can pass into the air from water and soil. Outdoor air contains low levels of benzene from tobacco smoke, automobile service stations, exhaust from motor vehicles, and industrial emissions. People can also be exposed to vapors from products that contain benzene, such as glues, paints, furniture wax, and detergents; from air around hazardous waste sites or gas stations; and working in industries that make or use benzene.

Breathing very high levels of benzene can result in death, while high levels can cause drowsiness, dizziness, rapid heart rate, headaches, tremors, confusion, and unconsciousness. Eating or drinking foods containing high levels of benzene can cause vomiting, irritation of the stomach, dizziness, sleepiness, convulsions, rapid heart rate, and death.

The major effect of benzene from long-term exposure is on the blood, causing harmful effects on the bone marrow and can cause a decrease in red blood cells. It can also cause excessive bleeding and can affect the immune system, increasing the chance for infection.

These are just a few things to know about exposure to benzene, to learn more about benzene or other health and safety, occupational or environmental issues, please visits the websites shown on the screen.

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