The petrochemical industry has spent at least $36 million to fund scientific research trying to minimize the dangers of benzene. This effort comes after independent studies have linked benzene to leukemia and other cancers. In 2004, the National Cancer Institute reported a study finding there’s no safe exposure level for people working with benzene.
Workers in the petrochemical industry have been among the most exposed to benzene and its effects. Benzene is a component of crude oil, and is used to make plastics, lubricants, dyes, pesticides, and adhesives. Over the last 10 years, lawsuits have been filed on behalf of workers who were sickened or died from benzene-related exposure, yet the industry is still trying to debate whether benzene is causing these rare cancers and other illnesses.