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Berryman’s B-12 Chemtool, Benzene & Leukemia

Published on September 20th, 2022 by Andrew Hughes

Individuals who have had long-term exposure to Berryman’s B-12 Chemtool may be at an elevated risk for cancer. Why is that? Because, historically, B-12 Chemtool contained high levels of benzene.

AML benzene

What is B-12 Chemtool?

Berryman’s B-12 Chemtool is a popular carburetor cleaner. It was first developed by Berryman Products, Inc. in 1958.[1] B-12 Chemtool quickly became Berryman’s flagship product, and it has been widely used by mechanics, gas station attendants, and other tradespeople ever since.

Like many other popular automotive cleaning products, B-12 Chemtool is formulated with solvents that are derived from petroleum (i.e. petroleum solvents). Benzene is a petroleum solvent, and for many years it was a primary ingredient in B-12 Chemtool.

Eventually, the benzene in B-12 Chemtool was replaced with other petroleum solvents. However, due to cost considerations in the distillation process, just about every industrial petroleum solvent is contaminated with some level of benzene. Consequently, even in recent years, B-12 Chemtool may have contained dangerous levels of benzene.

What is Benzene?

Benzene is a carcinogenic aromatic hydrocarbon. It is colorless at room temperature, it has a sweet smell, and it is highly flammable. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies benzene as a group one carcinogen.[2] Examples of other group one carcinogens include asbestos, plutonium, and tobacco.

Which Cancers are Linked to Benzene?

Benzene exposure can lead to numerous diseases including:

How Much Exposure to Benzene is Dangerous?

The only safe level of benzene exposure is zero. This fact was even recognized by the American Petroleum Institute (API) as early as 1948.[3]

How Much Benzene is in B-12 Chemtool?

B-12 Chemtool was originally formulated to contain 15% benzene. Internal documents uncovered during litigation have revealed that Berryman continued to use benzene as a primary ingredient in B-12 Chemtool until at least 1977. When Berryman finally stopped using benzene as a primary ingredient, it was replaced by other petroleum solvents – namely toluene. However, even today, B-12 Chemtool still contains benzene.

How Much Benzene is in Toluene?

Toluene is a close relative of benzene. The refining process that yields toluene from petroleum simultaneously produces benzene.[4] Separating the benzene from the toluene entirely is more costly for the manufacturer. As a result, industrial-grade toluene can retain significant amounts of benzene. Purified toluene (like what would be used in a laboratory) might only contain as little as 0.01% benzene. However, crude toluene might contain as much as 25% benzene.[5-8]

Current regulations require that Berryman report how much toluene is used in B-12 Chemtool. The Material Safety Data Sheet available on Berryman’s website as of 2022 indicates that B-12 Chemtool is 40-50% toluene.[9] However, manufacturers are not required to report how much benzene is present in the toluene that they use. Consequently, there is no way for a normal consumer to know how much benzene is in the product they are using.

What can I do if I was Exposed to B-12 Chemtool?

If you or a loved one was exposed to B-12 Chemtool or any other benzene-containing product and have been diagnosed with a blood or bone cancer, the attorneys at Hughes Law Office may be able to help. These are complicated cases that require experienced benzene attorneys. We want you to focus on your recovery and let us do the work needed to prove your case. Call 1-800-BENZENE today and speak directly with an attorney at no cost to you.

Carburetor of the internal combustion engine of a VAZ 2106. Automobile parts and spare parts.

[1] https://www.berrymanproducts.com/about/company-history/.

[2] IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans Volume 120 (IARC 2018) (“Benzene is carcinogenic to humans (Group 1)”).

[3] API Toxicological Review Benzene September 1948 (“Insomuch as the body develops no tolerance to benzene, and as there is a wide variation in individual susceptibility, it is generally considered that the only absolutely safe concentration for benzene is zero”).

[4] IARC Working Group on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans. Some Organic Solvents, Resin Monomers and Related Compounds, Pigments and Occupational Exposures in Paint Manufacture and Painting. (IARC 1989).

[5] American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists. Notice of intended changes – toluene, trimethylamine, and vinyl acetate (ACGIH 1991).

[6] Criteria Document on Occupational Exposure to Toluene (NIOSH 1973).

[7] Air Quality Guidelines for Europe (2nd ed. World Health Org. 2000).

[8] https://haz-map.com/Agents/83

[9] https://www.berrymanproducts.com/assets/1AA-1-pour-0101-0105-0115-0116-0155-

SDS-R02.pdf.

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