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Benzene in Paint Thinner

Benzene in Paint Thinner Increases Risk of Cancer

The benzene in paint, varnish, thinners, and paint strippers may increase the risk of leukemia for painters and contractors who have long-term exposure to various paint products. 

Paintbrush dripping varnish into can below

What is Benzene?

Benzene is primarily a colorless, sweet-smelling, highly flammable chemical with a high evaporation rate. Its vapor is heavier than air, and therefore may fall to rest in low-lying areas. It floats on top of water, dissolving only slightly, and when at room temperature is a light yellow liquid. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies benzene as a known carcinogen, alongside asbestos and plutonium.

Types of Cancer Caused by Benzene

Chronic exposure to paint thinning and stripping products that contain benzene put those exposed at elevated risk for various blood and bone marrow cancers. Some of these include Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML), Multiple Myeloma, Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS), and Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (NHL). 

Because benzene is a naturally occurring component of petroleum, products that are derived from petroleum will, in whole or in part, contain some level of benzene. Such is the case with paint thinners and strippers, which are petroleum distillates. While the levels of accepted benzene in products has been reduced, it is still not safe to be exposed to even trace amounts. 

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

How Does Benzene Exposure Happen?

Dangerous exposure to benzene in paint thinners or strippers can occur through inhalation, ingestion, or absorption through the skin. Inhalation is the most common type of exposure due to the evaporation rate of petroleum distillates. Almost half of inhaled benzene finds its way into the bloodstream.

Inhalation Exposure 

Benzene vapors can be inhaled directly into the lungs as soon as the chemical hits the air, making exposure difficult to avoid. Case studies show that long-term inhalation exposure to low concentrations of benzene can actually be more harmful than brief exposure to higher concentrations.

Since benzene is nearly odorless, once you smell a sweet odor similar to gasoline, you are likely exposed to high levels of benzene. In short, if you can smell it, you’re being exposed to dangerous levels.

Dermal Exposure

Benzene exposure through skin contact is also common. Benzene can be absorbed through the skin into the bloodstream. So any cuts or scrapes can increase the risk of developing cancer.

Exposure Through Ingestion

Though benzene exposure by ingestion is less common, it can be significantly more damaging. Studies indicate that benzene may be more readily absorbed through the stomach than through the lungs or skin, making it far more dangerous. Typically this type of exposure occurs when handling paint thinners or strippers and failing to wash your hands. 

Hughes Law Offices – Benzene Attorneys

Many people who have spent decades working with paint thinners and strippers were never warned of the dangers. As a result, they did not wear protective clothing/gloves or use respirators. Our personal injury attorneys are working to educate the public about the dangers and risks involved. We are here to help fight for our clients’ rights. 

These cases are complex and can be difficult, which means they require an experienced attorney to properly handle matters. If you have been exposed to benzene for prolonged periods of time, and have received a leukemia diagnosis, contact our office for a free case evaluation. You can call 1-800-BENZENE and speak to an attorney today.

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Contact us Today!  Call us at 1 (800) BENZENE or submit FREE CASE EVALUATION