Benzene: A Litigation Perspective

Articles & Publications

August 1, 2006

The National Toxicology Program, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Report on Carcinogens, Tenth Edition, "Carcinogen Profiles 2002," identifies benzene as a known human carcinogen.1 Benzene is a clear, colorless liquid used in numerous industrial processes. It is also ubiquitous in the environment, and human exposure to low levels of benzene is unavoidable. Non-occupational exposure occurs primarily through tobacco smoke, automobile service station emissions, car exhaust, industrial emissions, glues, paints, furniture wax and detergents. Workplace exposures occur in industries ranging from oil, shipping, automobile repair, shoe manufacturing and many more. Human exposure occurs via inhalation and dermal contact. Both case reports and epidemiologic studies support the association of benzene exposure with leukemia in humans and it is estimated that as many as three million workers may have been exposed to benzene.2 Personal injury lawsuits relating to workplace and environmental exposures are on the rise. This article discusses the state of the benzene litigation, benzene disease, and governmental regulations.

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