Benzene prior to the 1920s was originally used for an industrial solvent, especially for degreasing metal.
As its toxicity became obvious, benzene was supplanted by other solvents, especially toluene (methylbenzene), which has similar physical properties but is not as carcinogenic.
Benzene is a colorless or light-yellow liquid chemical at room temperature.
It is used primarily as a solvent in the chemical and pharmaceutical industries, as a starting material and an intermediate in the synthesis of numerous chemicals, and in gasoline.
Benzene is produced by both natural and man-made processes.
Historically, benzene has been used as a component of inks in the printing industry, as a solvent for organic materials, as starting material and intermediate in the chemical and drug industries (e.g. to manufacture rubbers, lubricants, dyes, detergents, pesticides), and as an additive to unleaded gasoline.
BENZENE is a special six carbon ring compound with three alternating double bonds.
This structure imparts unique properties to benzene which are different from other ring compounds.
Because many fragrant oils contain a benzene ring, these compounds became known as AROMATIC.
Benzene poisoning can be lethal because it causes the cells in the body to work incorrectly.
Benzene exposure can cause bone marrow cells to not produce red blood cells or it can can cause the white blood cells of your immune system to fail.
Benzene has a sweet, aromatic, gasoline-like odor.
Most individuals can begin to smell benzene in air at 1.5 to 4.7 ppm.
The odor threshold generally provides adequate warning for acutely hazardous exposure concentrations but is inadequate for more chronic exposures.
The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has determined that benzene causes cancer in humans.
Long-term exposure to high levels of benzene in the air can cause leukemia, cancer of the blood-forming organs.
Benzene has been shown to cause chromosome changes in bone marrow cells in the lab.
(The bone marrow is where new blood cells are made.)
Such changes are commonly found in human leukemia cells.
Since it is a lipid solvent, benzene degreases the skin, especially after long-term or frequent contact with the liquid.
It can also cause erythema, a burning sensation, and in more serious cases, edema and even blistering.