2. Benzene overview Benzene is considered an organic chemical compound made up of six carbon atoms joined together in a ring, having one hydrogen atom attached to each carbon atom (Lide, 2005). It is considered in the same category as the hydrocarbons which have long been considered toxic to our environment. Benzene is a natural ingredient in crude oil and also considered a petrochemical (Lide, 2005). It is aromatic, colorless, and highly flammable. It is often utilized as a precursor to heavy chemicals like ethylbenzene and cumene (Arnold, et.al., 1958). It has a high octane number, and as such is a major component of gasoline. 2.1 Benzene health risks Benzene increases health risks for acquiring cancer and other diseases. It has been known to cause leukemia because of its negative impact on the bone marrow (Smith, 2010). Based on epidemiological and clinical studies, it has been known to cause aplastic anemia, acute leukemia, and other diseases where affectations of the bone marrow are concerned. Specific blood malignancies indicate that benzene is linked to diseases like acute myeloid leukemia (AML), myleodysplastic syndrome, acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), and chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) (Smith, 2010). As early as 1948, the American Petroleum Institute stated that benzene is a very dangerous compound; the US Department of Health and Human Services has also labeled the compound as a carcinogen and long-term exposure to high levels of this compound in the atmosphere has been known to cause leukemia (American Petroleum Institute, 1948). Moreover, it has long been proven and undisputed that benzene has been known to cause AML and acute non-lymphocytic leukemia. The exposure of humans...
The above discussion indicates the importance of strictly implementing health regulations in relation to benzene. The pressure is on government enforcement agencies to implement strict monitoring activities on companies using benzene.
The above discussion indicates the impact of benzene on general human health and on workers. Benzene is a toxic chemical compound which in its entirety is considered to be a hydrocarbon. It is an additive for various industries, including shoemaking (glue), petroleum industry, as well as other industrial plants. As an additive, it can take on liquid, solid, and gaseous forms, thereby causing various instances of exposure for man. The health risk for this compound is mostly related to the blood marrow functions, and as a result, it is known to cause leukemia and other blood disorders. Studies indicate how many workers, shoemakers, petroleum workers, etc have a high risk for developing leukemia and these studies also indicate that there is indeed a link between leukemia and benzene. At present, the levels of benzene in most products have been reduced, however, a certain percentage of the compound is still present in various chemicals. This is still therefore a major concern because the EPA acknowledges that the only safe level of benzene is zero. It is therefore important for managers to establish occupational safety conditions for their workers to reduce direct exposure or to reduce the benzene components of their raw materials to acceptable and safe levels.