What Is Benzene?
Benzene is a hydrocarbon characterized by a 6 carbon ring often used as an intermediary in the production of numerous products such as Styrene, which is used in plastics, it is also used as an intermediary in the production of phenols for the production of adhesives. Benzene can also be found as an intermediary in the production of Nylon. Small amounts of benzene can be found in rubber, dyes, detergents and drugs. Most notably benzene is used in gasoline.
In 1948 the American Petroleum Institute stated that “the only absolutely safe concentration of benzene is zero.” Since the 20’s there have been numerous allegations that exposure to benzene can lead to cancer in humans but due to industry actions to subvert the allegations there was no real evidence of a causal link until the 70’s. Since then there has been overwhelming evidence linking benzene exposure to all kinds of negative conditions.
Long term exposure to benzene can lead leukemea, a form or blood cancer. Short term exposure of high levels of benzene can cause death in some cases and low levels have can cause drowsiness, dizziness and rapid heart beat. Many government agencies such as the EPA and OSHA have put caps on the allowable exposure to benzene in the workplace. Benzene is a very common, every day product and even some soft drinks have been found to have benzene in them over the recommended limit of 5 parts per billion.
Currently there are two major lawsuits going on in the nation’s court system concerning benzene exposure. The first was filed in 2010 and pertains to BP’s exposure to a Texas community of 500,000 pounds of pollutants, including benzene. The class action lawsuit contends that PB was lax in its maintanence and safety concerns leading to the exposure and then failed to warn the local population for 40-days after the leak. The lawsuit seeks $10 billion in damages because they claim that the exposure has damaged the people and property values in the area.
Another lawsuit filed in January of 2011 involves the death of an Illinois woman from leukemia said to be caused by the negligent actions of Shell oil. The lawsuit contends that the leukemia was caused by the spilling orf 8,400 gallons of benzene that were leaked from an underground pipeline controlled by Shell. The wrongful death action claims that the defendants were negligent in building and maintaining the pipeline.
What To Do If Exposed To Benzene
If you or someone you know has been exposed to benzene and has developed leukemia or any other ailments associated with it disease it is important that you go see a physician as soon as possible. Upon a physicians suggestion that the condition can be linked to Benzene it is then your job to consult an attorney who specializes in class action lawsuits involving Benzene. Be wary of the statute of limitations. Because the statute of limitations usually begins to run once you should have known about symptoms your clock may already be running.