Case Assignment Benzene exposure

Introduction Benzene which is also known as benzol is an organic compound that is colorless, highly flammable and with a sweet odor. It tends to evaporate quickly when left exposed. It is a chemical compound that is normally formed by a natural process such as volcanic formation or forest fires. It is also formed from hydrocarbons. It was said to be present as a “component of the cigarette smoke” (ACS, 2008). Some of it physical properties are a relatively high melting point and high solubility in water.

It is mostly use as a solvent in most chemical industries. It functions ranges from the production of drugs, plastics, synthetic rubber to dyes production where it mostly serves as the precursors of such industrial products. Route of exposure Benzene exposure has a lot of health impact and there are mostly three ways in which an individual can be exposed to benzene toxicity, these are inhalational route, ingestion and transdermal absorption (Media Fact, 2008). Inhalation of benzene is usually as a result of the breathing of the benzene fumes.

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Benzene fumes are inhaled easily because benzene is an extremely volatile organic compound and this kind of exposure is one of the deadliest because of it immediate contact with the lung parenchyma. This then elicit a lot neurological symptoms such as headache, dizziness, tachycardia (increase in heart rate), tremors and subsequent death if untreated on time. Benzene ingestion result from eating of benzene laden foods or beverages and its noticeable symtoms are neurological while those of transdermal route usually result from contact with the benzene or benzene laden materials (Media Fact, 2008).
The health problems cause by this route of benzene exposure “are erythema (reddening of the skin), scaling dermatitis, suppression of the hematopoietic system and pancytopenia” (Media Fact, 2008) Sources of Benzene Exposure The major sources of human exposure to benzene are environmental, occupational and consumer products. Benzene is usually released into air from sources like gasoline filling stations, underground leakage of petroleum, vehicular exhaust, cigarette smoke, waste products or sewage and some food products.
Most of the occupational related benzene exposure are seen mainly in industries like those involve in rubber production, chemical plants, refineries and shipments and retail shops. Other sources include consumer products that are made of benzene such as glues, adhesives, cigarettes, paint and varnishes e. t. c Short and long term effects The short term effects of benzene exposure are “drowsiness, dizziness, headaches, tremors, confusion and unconsciousness” (ACS, 2008).
The previous symptoms are as a result of exposure of about 700-300ppm while acute exposure of high dose results in vomiting, irritation of the gastrointestinal tract, narcolepsy, convulsion and tachycardia. In extreme cases of high dose ingestion death usually results. The long term effect of benzene toxicity has been attributed to the interference with the normal blood cell production i. e. the hematopoietic cells. The sequeale of this is anemia and leucopenia. An individual with this will be immunocompromised hence such individual will be prone to opportunistic diseases.
The long term effect can also be seen to result in reproductive organ dysfunction. Precautionary measures 1. The use of personal protective equipment such as gloves, apron and some other clothing materials. 2. Special training on equipments handling and usage 3. If there is accidental release of the benzene quick evacuation of such laboratory must be done urgently 4. Proper ventilation of the laboratory References ACS, (2008). Benzene. Prevention and early detection Retrieved Sept 4, 2008 From www. cancer. org/docroot/PED/content/PED_1_3X_Benzene. asp

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