Benzene is a colorless, flammable liquid with a sweet odor. It evaporates quickly when exposed to air. Benzene is formed from natural processes, such as volcanoes and forest fires, but most exposure to benzene results from human activities. Benzene is among the 20 most widely used chemicals in the United States. It is used mainly as a starting material in making other chemicals, including plastics, lubricants, rubbers, dyes, detergents, drugs, and pesticides.

BENZENE EXPOSURE + LEUKEMIA 

A number of organizations throughout the world, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the IARC, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, acknowledge a relationship between exposure to benzene and the occurrence of various types of leukemia, a cancer of the bone marrow and blood. Specifically, long-term exposure to benzene has been associated with acute myeloid leukemia or acute nonlymphocytic leukemia, a cancer characterized by the rapid growth of abnormal white blood cells that build up in the bone marrow and interfere with the production of normal blood cells. Acute myeloid leukemia progresses rapidly as myeloid cells interfere with the production of normal white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets. Symptoms may include fatigue, recurrent infections and bruising easily. Chemotherapy, other drug therapies and stem-cell transplants are often used to treat the disease. Exposure to products containing benzene, whether through inhalation or skin absorption, can cause life-threatening diseases including:

Some of these diseases do not manifest themselves until several years after exposure to benzene. Also, many people who are diagnosed with AML or MDS may not realize there can be a connection to past toxic exposure, particularly to benzene. If a person has been diagnosed with one of these cancers or another severe injury, and has a past history of chronic benzene exposure, they may have a claim.

IMMEDIATE SIDE EFFECTS OF BENZENE EXPOSURE 

According to the CDC, people who breathe in high levels of benzene may develop certain symptoms within minutes to several hours of exposure, including:

  • DROWSINESS
  • DIZZINESS
  • RAPID OR IRREGULAR HEARTBEAT
  • HEADACHES
  • TREMORS
  • CONFUSION
  • UNCONSCIOUSNESS
  • DEATH

OIL COMPANIES + PRO-BENZENE RESEARCH 

Lawsuits allege that oil companies have known for decades that benzene causes cancer, but instead of protecting workers they denied it and actively downplayed its risks. The Center for Public Integrity has gathered thousands of internal memos, emails, and letters that show how the petrochemical industry colluded to attack scientific evidence. One of the unearthed documents was written by a former Shell senior attorney. It is intended as a guide for corporate lawyers handling benzene litigation.

Though the internal document acknowledges that scientific literature connected benzene to leukemia as far back as 1948, lawyers are advised to “disclose sensitive benzene documents only on court order.” But oil companies may have done more than simply refuse to hand over documents. The Center for Public Integrity alleges that the industry helped to shape benzene research so that it was in their favor. The American Petroleum Institute (API) is the largest trade association representing oil and natural gas companies in the U.S. In order to protect their members’ interests (which include Shell, Chevron, and ExxonMobil), API allegedly spent $36 million on favorable research that would keep benzene regulations at bay.


DO YOU HAVE QUESTIONS ABOUT INJURIES RELATED TO BENZENE EXPOSURE?

The damages that can result from a benzene exposure lawsuit can be both physically and emotionally daunting. When you have your future on the line, you cannot afford to put your trust in an inexperienced attorney. Instead, you need to seek the guidance of attorneys who have extensive experience and resources to either reach a favorable settlement or win your case at trial. We have done both on behalf of our clients on numerous occasions. At Fulmer Sill, we are proud to deliver high-quality assistance to all of our clients. Should you choose to seek our legal representation, we are confident that our experience and knowledge will produce a favorable outcome for you. If you or a loved one have been affected by a benzene exposure, we encourage you to consult with our team as soon as possible. All initial consultations are free, and we don’t charge any up-front fees for representation. Fulmer Sill handles all fees on a contingency basis, meaning that unless we’re successful, you don’t have to pay us. Please contact us at (405)510.0077 for a free consultation.