Benzene fact sheet



What is benzene?

Benzene is a highly flammable, colorless (light yellow at room temperature), liquid, volatile organic compound with a sweet smell. It evaporates into the air quickly and dissolves only slightly in water. It comes from both natural and industrial sources, and can be found in water, air and soil. It is a known human carcinogen.

How common is benzene?

Benzene is the 17th most-produced chemical in the U.S. and is used in the manufacturing of common household items such as plastics, lubricants, dyes, adhesives and pesticides. The main sources of human exposure to benzene are gasoline and cigarette smoke exposure.

How harmful is benzene?

There is an association with leukemia at a chronic exposure level of 10 parts per million, or lower. A worker exposed at 10 ppm of benzene for 40 years is 155 times more likely to die from leukemia than an unexposed worker.

  • Benzene is found in:
  • Cigarette smoke
  • Solvents
  • Crude Oil
  • Diesel exhaust
  • Gasoline
  • Styrofoam
  • Ingredients used to make synthetic rubber, lubricants, dyes, detergents, drugs and pesticides
  • Occupations linked to benzene exposure:
  • Steel workers
  • Refinery workers
  • Printers
  • Shoe makers
  • Laboratory technicians
  • Gas station employees
  • Firefighters