Benzene Injury Law


Painters & Benzene

Benzene is a naturally occurring chemical found in crude oil. Many petroleum-based products commonly used by painters over the years contained variable levels of benzene. These benzene exposures endured by painters put them at elevated risk for leukemia.

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    These products include:

    • Solvents
    • Thinners
    • Paints
    • Enamels
    • Reducers
    • Oils
    • Lacquers
    • Primers

    The benzene levels in most of these products are relatively low today. Moreover, all experts acknowledge there is no safe level of benzene exposure. Long term use of benzene-containing solvents, paints, and thinners can lead to certain cancers including myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS), acute myeloid leukemia (AML), and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL).

    Any Warnings Came Too Late

    Unfortunately, epidemiological studies indicate that painters are at an elevated risk for diseases like AML and MDS compared to non-exposed individuals. The manufacturers of many of these petroleum-based products, knew about the dangers associated with benzene for decades. These are huge companies like Exxon, Shell Chemical, DuPont and Chevron.  Despite that knowledge, many of the end-users of their products, including painters, never received proper warnings about benzene.

    Today, many shops and companies appreciate the dangers of benzene and provide their workers with respirators, safety training, and well-ventilated work areas. But back in the 1960’s and 1970’s, before the EPA began to regulate benzene levels in paints, thinners and lacquers, painters working without breathing protection in unventilated shops often endured toxic benzene exposures.  


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    Many painters describe washing their hands with solvents and thinners before eating their lunch or leaving for the day. Benzene can be absorbed through the skin, therefore painters cleaning their hands with benzene-containing products suffered dangerous exposures. Lacquer thinners were used for much more than thinning lacquer.

    Benzene evaporates quite easily but does not have a chemical odor which might warn users. So the open can of paint you were working next to all day could have been venting benzene into your breathing space all day. The thinners you used to remove oil-based paint and to clean your brushes at the end of the day may also have exposed you to benzene. 

    We May Be Able to Help

    The companies that manufactured and sold these products were aware of the dangers of benzene before they began to reduce the concentration. Having experienced counsel to take on the petrochemical giants is vital. While you focus on your recovery, let us do the work needed to prove your case. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with AML or MDS after a career in painting, call 1-800-BENZENE to speak with a benzene lawyer today.


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    Verdicts and Settlements

    Survey of Benzene

    Hughes Law Offices is providing case histories to inform visitors about actual case fact patterns and rulings.
    Unless specifically noted, the cases summarized herein were not handled by attorneys at Hughes Law Offices.
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    Helper/rigger/leadman on barges diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia via benzene exposure. Plaintiff exposed to benzene via solvents used to clean tools. Employer provided the solvents. Older versions of Liquid Wrench contained high mixtures of benzene.



    Gasoline tanker truck driver diagnosed with blood cancer following years of benzene exposure at defendant’s premises. Benzene was component of the fuel that he was loading and hauling.



    Plaintiff had a 39-year career with Sabine Towing. Throughout his career, plaintiff held various positions, including seaman, quartermaster, boatswain, third mate, second mate, chief mate and master..



    Able-bodied seaman diagnosed with kidney cancer as a result of exposure to benzene and other hydrocarbons while loading and discharging crude oil and other products, cleaning tanks and measuring tank levels.



    In his 30s at the time, decedent was a contracted tanker truck driver who regularly transported toxic products. As a result, he was regularly exposed to chemicals containing benzene.



    Plaintiff’s decedent had worked as a pump man aboard various tankers in the early 1970s and early 1980s where he was exposed to benzene. In 1994, about 15 years since his last exposure to benzene, the decedent was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia (AML).

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