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What are the effects of benzene on workers' health?

There are many factors that go into making a good career for Los Angeles residents. The nature of the work, the pay and the attitudes of coworkers are just a few of these factors. Another major contributor is the safety of the workplace, as individuals want to feel secure and protected from harm while on the job. Unfortunately, many places of employment fail to protect workers from a job injury, which can leave the employees with serious injuries or even fatal consequences.

Typically, individuals may believe it is easy to identify those workplaces that are not safe to work in, such as inherently dangerous jobs that pose an obvious risk to one's safety. For many workers, however, the risks of danger may be far less apparent.

For instance, individuals who work around paint fumes or other similar chemicals, such as painters and chemical plant workers, can find themselves at risk for a workplace illness due to a chemical called benzene. Benzene is a colorless chemical that is widely used in the United States, including in industries that use it to make other chemicals used in plastics, resins, nylon and synthetic fibers. It is also used to make rubbers, dyes, detergents, lubricants, drugs and pesticides.

Individuals who work in these industries are exposed to much higher levels of the chemical than others. Exposure can cause a person's cells to malfunction, such as causing bone marrow to fail to produce enough red blood cells or damaging the immune system. Individuals who are exposed to benzene for long periods can have harmful effects on their blood, which can lead to anemia or leukemia.

Accordingly, individuals who may be exposed to benzene or other similar chemicals should be aware of the risks of illness. They should also be aware of their legal rights when they are injured by benzene exposure, as they may be entitled to workers' compensation or even a legal cause of action to enforce their rights.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Facts about Benzene," accessed on Nov. 21, 2015

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