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Benzene in Toluene

Published on February 6th, 2023 by Andrew L. Hughes

Benzene and Toluene: Is Toluene Carcinogenic?

Toluene, also known as methylbenzene or phenylmethane, is an aromatic hydrocarbon and oil distillate, much like benzene. It is a naturally occurring, colorless liquid. At the time of this publication, it has not been identified as carcinogenic by the government. That does not mean toluene is harmless.

Lab setting featuring full beaker labeled with toluene sticker and gloved hand holding dropper above it

Toluene alone is an irritant to the eyes, skin, and respiratory tract. It can be toxic when inhaled or ingested. Refined toluene contains benzene, a known carcinogen linked to leukemia and other health conditions. 

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires benzene to be listed in concentrations higher than .1%. But the benzene might not be listed if it is hiding in toluene. Since toluene has not been labeled a carcinogen, users of products with high levels toluene are not warned about potential toxicity like they are with benzene. 

What is Toluene Used For?

Toluene is a naturally strong solvent, and is therefore found in many substances including adhesives, lacquers, nail polishes, paints, and paint thinners. Toluene is also added to gasoline as an octane booster. 

Well over 5 million metric tons of toluene are sold in the United States every year. In the past two decades, companies including ExxonMobil and Chevron Phillips Chemical Company have manufactured toluene containing at least 1% benzene. Benzene can then enter the stream of commerce as a contaminant of the toluene without the end users knowledge. 

Close up of man's dirty hands adding clear liquid to can of paint as open cans of red paint sit in background

Toluene Personal Injury Attorneys

Filing lawsuits against makers of toluene and companies that use toluene as an additive is a huge undertaking. The best way to move forward with these cases is with the support of an experienced benzene attorney. 

The dedicated personal injury lawyers at Hughes Law Offices focus on benzene cases and we are passionate about helping our clients through the process. We also strive to hold the responsible parties accountable.

If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with leukemia or nervous system disorders after working with toluene in gasoline products or byproducts, please give us a call. The consultation is free, and we will evaluate your case based on your specific situation and needs. Together we will formulate a plan to move forward, and get you the compensation you need. You don’t have to suffer through this alone.

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