Are You at Risk of Benzene Poisoning? We Can Help!

are you at risk of benzene poisoning

BENZENE POISONING,

ARE YOU AT RISK? WE CAN HELP!

The massive fire at the storage facility of the Intercontinental Terminals Company (ITC) that started on Sunday was finally extinguished; however, authorities issued a shelter-in-place order warning people in the community of Deer Park and other surrounding areas of high levels of benzene in the air.

The shelter-in-place order has since been lifted, but many of us have questions regarding what benzene is and how dangerous is it.

What is Benzene?

Benzene is a clear colorless liquid petroleum-based chemical that has a sweet smell and is highly flammable. It evaporates quickly; however, its vapor is heavier than air which means it may sick into low-lying areas.

Benzene ranks in the top 20 chemicals for production volume in the US and most of us are exposed to low levels of it daily. The air we breathe can be contaminated with this chemical from different sources including:

  • Tobacco Smoke
  • Motor Vehicle Exhaust
  • Gas Stations
  • Industrial Emissions
  • Paints
  • Glues
  • Furniture Wax
  • Detergents

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the maximum time-weighted average (TWA) exposure limit is 1 part of benzene vapor per million parts of air (1 ppm) for an 8-hour workday, and the maximum short-term exposure limit (STEL) is 5 ppm for any 15 minute period.

Higher levels of benzene or exposure times above those established are hazardous for your health as benzene can cause cancer.

Signs and Symptoms of Benzene Poisoning

According to the CDC, benzene poisoning can occur from breathing in high levels of the vapor, by drinking or eating foods that have been contaminated with the chemical or by direct contact with the compound. The symptoms may manifest within minutes or hours after the exposure.

Symptoms from Breathing High Levels of Benzene:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Headaches
  • Tremors
  • Confusion
  • Unconsciousness
  • Death (at very high levels)

Symptoms from Eating or Drinking Contaminated Products

  • Vomiting
  • Irritation of the stomach
  • Dizziness
  • Sleepiness
  • Convulsions
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Death (at very high levels)

Symptoms of Direct Contact with Benzene

  • Direct exposure of the eyes, skin, or lungs to benzene can cause tissue injury and irritation

Experiencing Any of These Symptoms?

What to Do If You Are Exposed to High Levels of Benzene

  • If Benzene was released into the air in the form of vapor, the best thing to do is move as far away from the affected area as possible.
  • If you are near a release of benzene follow the instructions of the emergency coordinators, they will recommend you evacuate or shelter-in-place to avoid being exposed to the chemical.
  • If you believe you have been exposed to higher than recommended levels of benzene, you should remove your clothing, wash thoroughly with soap and water and get emergency medical attention as quick as possible.

Benzene Poisoning Treatment

There is no specific antidote for benzene poisoning; however, symptoms can be treated in any of Altus Emergency Centers which can save your life or minimize the long-term effects of benzene exposure.

Emergency doctors at Altus ER cannot stress enough how important receiving supportive medical care when you or a loved one has been poisoned by benzene. Getting to our centers as soon as possible could save your life.

Have You Been Affected by the Intercontinental Terminals Company (ITC) Fire?

 

ITC is aware that claims have arisen as a result of the 3/17/19 incident at ITC’s terminal in Deer Park, Texas.
If you believe you have suffered damage as a result of the incident, you can download and completely fill out
the appropriate claim form and submit it with required supporting documents.
Note that there are separate claim forms for businesses and individuals.

ITC CLAIMS FORMS

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