If you have been exposed to benzene during a workplace accident, etc., and the exposure was not your fault, you may be eligible for medical compensation if your health was placed at risk. Contact a Louisville, KY benzene exposure attorney for more information, but first, here are the facts:
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What is Benzene?
Benzene is a naturally occurring chemical found in nature. However, exposure to humans is more common from its use in creating chemicals and solvents. In its natural state, benzene is a sweet-smelling, highly flammable liquid that is colorless or light yellow at room temperature. It is among the 20 most widely used chemicals in the United States and is used in making common products such as plastics, rubbers, dyes, detergents, and pesticides. Used as a substitute for lead, benzene now also makes up one to two percent of every gallon of gasoline and is released as a by-product of fuel combustion.
Exposure to Benzene
Exposure to benzene primarily occurs due to breathing in air containing the chemical. It is also possible, but less common, for exposure to occur through the skin. Cigarette smoke and second hand smoke accounts for around half of the benzene exposure in the United States. Further, exposure from work and home chemicals can also be extremely dangerous.
Benzene exposure in water supplies has become a greater concern with the increased prevalence of hydraulic fracturing, also known as “fracking”, which uses high quantities of lubricants and diesel fuel to mine natural gas. Benzene is present in these lubricants and diesel fuel. When these lubricants and diesel fuel mixtures then leak past their intended usage, the result is potential poisoning of water supplies due to dangerous amounts of benzene. Large amounts of benzene exposure can also occur as a byproduct of gasoline in combustion engines.
Benzene exposure in the workplace is regulated by the federal government. The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) limits exposure to benzene in the air to one ppm (part per million) during an average workday and a maximum of five ppm over any 15 minute period. If there is a potential for higher exposure risks, OSHA requires employers to provide protective equipment. Unfortunately, protective equipment is not always provided by employers or fully functional. Occupations that are particularly at risk of benzene exposure include chemical plant workers, gas station workers, miners, oil refinery workers, road workers, and other manufacturing professions.
Effects of Benzene Exposure
Short-term exposure to benzene inhalation can affect the nervous system, leading to drowsiness, dizziness, headaches, tremors, and confusion. Consuming food or liquids contaminated with benzene can cause vomiting, stomach irritation, sleepiness, convulsions, a rapid heart rate, and, if consumed in high enough quantities, death. Similar to exposure to harmful materials like asbestos, the injuries arising from benzene exposure are not always immediate or apparent. Due to the fact that most injuries are caused by long term exposure, most exposed persons or their loved ones fail to realize the cause of their health problems is benzene.
Benzene is a known carcinogen, meaning that it has cancer-causing properties. Studies have shown that workers exposed to high levels of benzene have higher rates of leukemia, specifically acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL). High levels of benzene exposure can also cause serious diseases such as aplastic anemia, myelodysplatic syndrome (MDS), multiple myeloma, and non-Hodgkins lymphoma.
Compensation for Injuries
If you feel that you have been exposed to unhealthy levels of benzene or have benzene-related injuries you may be compensated for the following:
- Medical Expenses – Any surgery, doctor visits, reoccurring pain, and any additional medical expenses associated with the risks of benzene exposure may be considered for reimbursement.
- Pain and Suffering – Being a victim of a harmful chemical has multiple repercussions, including pain and suffering and/or depression.
- Lost Wages – Undergoing injuries from benzene exposure can leave you unable to return to work immediately, especially if frequent pain is experienced.
- Wrongful Death – If you have lost a loved one from being exposed to benzene, no amount of money can replace the pain you feel; however, you can be compensated for funeral and burial expenses, emotional distress, and loss of consortium.
Help You Can Trust
Dealing with the severe pain or wrongful death of a loved one from the side effects of benzene exposure presents many obstacles to overcome. While you can focus on your health and healing, the attorneys at Thomas Law Offices can prepare all legal documents and argue your case against the manufacturer, employer, and/or other cause of harmful benzene exposure. We have a proven track record of dealing with multiple personal injury and toxic tort cases and will work diligently to fight for the compensation you deserve. Call us at (877) 955-7001 or contact us online for a free case evaluation.