So what is Benzene?

Categories:  Environment    Features
Wednesday, March 1st, 2017 at 2:45 PM
So what is Benzene? by Katie Chriest

The National Center for Biotechnology Information defines benzene as a “Toxic, volatile, flammable liquid hydrocarbon byproduct of coal distillation,” which “causes central nervous system damage acutely and bone marrow damage chronically and is carcinogenic. … EPA has classified benzene as known human carcinogen for all routes of exposure.”

The NCBI identifies the following effects:

 – Acute (short-term) inhalation exposure of humans to benzene may cause drowsiness, dizziness, headaches, as well as eye, skin, and respiratory tract irritation, and, at high levels, unconsciousness.

 – Chronic (long-term) inhalation exposure has caused various disorders in the blood, including reduced numbers of red blood cells and aplastic anemia, in occupational settings.

 – Reproductive effects have been reported for women exposed by inhalation to high levels, and adverse effects on the developing fetus have been observed in animal tests.

 – Increased incidence of leukemia (cancer of the tissues that form white blood cells) have been observed in humans occupationally exposed to benzene.

The Tonawanda Community Air Quality Study, released in October 2009, had “measured ambient concentrations of hazardous air pollutants,” and “the results identified elevations of several chemicals, including benzene, linked to the Tonawanda Coke Corporation (TCC). The air quality study also identified areas with an excess lifetime cancer risk associated with TCC benzene emissions.”

Benzene is likewise the pollutant that Erie Coke Corp. has been sued for emitting. – K.C.

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