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Benzene in Brake Cleaner

Mechanics and Leukemia: Does Brake Cleaner Cause Cancer?

Brake cleaning products have been used by mechanics and hobbyists for decades. Also referred to as “parts cleaner”, this mostly colorless cleaning fluid is a highly flammable, strong degreaser that leaves no residue once evaporated. This fast-drying solvent cleans grease, oil, brake fluid, and engine and brake parts. 

What many people don’t know, however, is that brake cleaners contain ingredients that can cause cancer.

Stethoscope and vials on white background with text reading Acute Myeloid Leukemia

What’s in Brake Cleaner?

Brake cleaning products contain hydrocarbons like benzene and toluene, a benzene derivative. Benzene is known to cause blood cancer and bone marrow cancer like acute myeloid leukemia (AML), multiple myeloma (MM), myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL). Although not a type of cancer, aplastic anemia is a rare but serious disorder that affects the production of new blood cells. This is yet another illness benzene is known to cause. 

Is Brake Cleaner Toxic?

In short, yes – benzene is a known carcinogen. Brake cleaner instructions will recommend usage outside or in well ventilated areas. For professional mechanics, however, who experience prolonged exposure, ventilation does little to prevent inhalation and skin contact. Few companies provided proper warnings in 1960s and 1970s, when benzene levels were higher than today. 

Today, some of these toxic chemicals are now listed in the ingredients. There are loopholes in the law regarding warning labels. The true chemical composition may be hidden to protect “trade secrets”. And because it’s nearly impossible to use brake cleaner at a safe distance, inhalation is nearly unavoidable. Even with the use of a mask, you are still not 100% protected.

Man's greasy, hard-working hands grip black steel bar. Veins and skin creases show on the hands

Personal Injury Lawsuits for Brake Cleaner Exposure

Many manufacturers of brake cleaners end up settling out of court because benzene is known to cause cancer. Mechanics who are diagnosed with AML, MDS, NHL or (MM) can successfully sue for damages after working with brake cleaners for many years. 

The personal injury attorneys here at Hughes Law Offices focus on benzene exposure. They have the experience needed to navigate such complicated cases. If you have been diagnosed with leukemia, we recommend acting quickly to preserve any legal rights you may have. 

If you are a mechanic or auto shop employee who regularly works with brake cleaning products, and you have received a diagnosis of AML, MDS, NHL, MM, or other type of leukemia, please contact Hughes Law Offices today. Request an appointment online, or call 1-800-BENZENE to speak directly with one of our benzene attorneys.

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