Benzene Injury Law

Parts Washers & Solvents

Is There A Risk Using Parts Washers and Solvents?

Mechanics, machinists and other craftspeople are at elevated risk for leukemia as a result of their use of parts washers and solvents. Why is that? Because many parts washers and solvents contained benzene. Benzene is known to cause various forms of blood and bone marrow cancers, including:

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    Most mechanics spend hours every day soaking, brushing, and cleaning brake, engine, and transmission parts. Safety-Kleen, Zepp, and other brands of parts washers have sold hundreds of thousands of tanks over the years. Some shops filled the tanks with gasoline or mineral spirits. Safety-Kleen’s Solvent 105 was very popular. Unfortunately, all of these liquids contained benzene, a known carcinogen that causes leukemia.

    Safety-Kleen & Benzene

    Safety-Kleen 105 Solvent is a mineral spirits petroleum-based hydrocarbon designed to clean automotive parts. It is advertised as a convenient, safe, and economical way to clean greasy metal parts.

    Benzene evaporates at room temperature. When parts are being cleaned, benzene can be inhaled. This cleaner was often used to wash dirty hands, exposing skin to benzene. Cuts or scrapes on your hands make benzene exposures far worse.


    Warnings About Benzene in Safety-Kleen Products

    Safety-Kleen has sold and serviced parts washers and solvents for decades. Lawyers for Safety-Kleen argue that their products contain sufficient warnings. But ask a mechanic if their Safety-Kleen representative ever directed them to wear a respirator while using a parts washer and the answer is almost always “no”. Safety-Kleen was aware of the hazards of benzene but did not properly warn their customers.

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    Parts Washers – Exposure to Benzene

    By the early 1970s, over 100,000 Safety-Kleen parts cleaners had been sold to auto shops and other customers in the United States. A truck would pull up, haul the old solvent away and replace it with new or recycled solvent. Benzene in the tank would evaporate into the breathing space of mechanics working with the washer. Using the brush that came with most tanks stirred up even more vapors. And placing parts contaminated with gasoline or oil would add even more benzene to the system.

    Other Solvents in Parts Washers

    Gasoline was commonly used in parts washers in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. The benzene content of gasoline during those years commonly exceeded 5%. That is one of the reasons that gasoline was so effective at degreasing parts. Mineral spirits and stoddard solvents also contained benzene into the 1970s. The manufacturers and distributors of gasoline, mineral spirits, and stoddard solvents did not properly warn mechanics about the dangers of benzene.


    Aggressive Benzene Lawyers

    Benzene lawsuits are complex and time consuming. Typical defendants in benzene cases are petrochemical giants who will deny virtually everything. If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, multiple myeloma, myelodysplastic syndrome, or non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, please call our law offices. We are here to fight on your behalf, and demand the compensation you deserve. We will be by your side throughout the case, we will answer all your questions, and you will always know what to expect next.

    Contact us online today or call 1-800-BENZENE to speak with one of our attorneys.

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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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