Benzene Health Effects: Acute and Chronic

Benzene Health Effects: Acute and Chronic

Benzene is a toxic chemical that occurs naturally in the environment but is also used by man in a wide range of products. Exposure to this chemical can result in a range of side effects, which can be acute or chronic, and can be deadly.

Long term exposure or high level exposure to benzene can result in a number of ailments, and this chemical has been branded a class A carcinogenic by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Some of the effect, both chronic and acute, are detailed below:


Benzene exposure can result in a number of neurological symptoms, and these include dizziness, drowsiness, headaches, and loss of consciousness.

Larger doses of this chemical can result in vomiting, dizziness, and convulsions, and can ultimately lead to death.

Dermal exposure to this chemical can result in reddening and blistering of the skin, and exposure to vapor and liquid form can cause irritation to the eyes, skin, and can also result in respiratory problems.

Acute toxicity levels can vary depending on the method of exposure, and this has been prove through animal testing.

Tests have shown that ingestion and dermal exposure can result in moderate acute toxicity, whereas inhalation can result in low acute toxicity.


Longer term exposure to Benzene can result in haematological problems in humans, and can affect the tissue that is responsible for producing blood cells, known as the bone marrow.

Some of the problems that can develop include excessive bleeding, immune system deficiencies, and aplastic anemia.

Chromosomal problems can arise from chronic inhalation of benzene, which can occur on a structural or numerical level.

Cancerous effects

Benzene has been classed as a group A carcinogenic by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Those exposed to Benzene regularly or in high doses, particularly those regularly exposed on an occupational basis, are at risk from the cancerous effects of the chemical.

Benzene is linked with an increased risk of leukaemia, and some of the cancers associated with this chemical include:

  • acute myelogenous leukemia (AML)
  • acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL)
  • chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML)
  • chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL)
  • hairy cell leukemia (HCL)
  • non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL)
  • Hodgkin’s disease
  • multiple myeloma
  • myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS).

Other effects

Benzene is also related to a number of other effects in addition the ones outlined above.

Females that have been occupationally exposed to this chemical have been found to suffer a decrease in the size of the ovaries as well as menstrual problems.

Some studies – although not yet conclusive – have also suggested that the high level exposure to the chemical could also affect fertility in women.

In animal tests, pregnant animals that were exposed to Benzene thought inhalation sustained fetus damage, including effects such as low birth weight, bone marrow problems, and problems with bone formation.

Some of the side effects of Benzene exposure include:

  • Fatigue
  • Malaise
  • Abnormal bleeding
  • Excessive bruising
  • Weakness
  • Reduced tolerance to exercise
  • Weight loss
  • Bone or joint pain
  • Infection and fever
  • Abdominal pain or discomfort
  • Enlarged spleen, lymph nodes, and liver

Although tests into the acute and chronic effects of Benzene are still ongoing, tests already performed have shown that this chemical is linked to a range of disorders and ailments, which can cause anything from discomfort to death.

Those occupationally exposed to the chemical or those that feel that they may have suffered high level or prolonged exposure by some other means are strongly advised to seek medical assistance without delay, as well as looking into legal assistance with a view to claiming compensation for any injury sustained through the exposure,