Healthscreen UK

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Benzene Monitoring

Benzene is a volatile organic compound that can evaporate quickly into the air and is known for its sweet-smelling odour. It is a colourless or light-yellow liquid that is highly flammable. Employees can be exposed to benzene through contact and inhalation. Monitoring benzene levels in the workplace is essential to ensure the health and safety of workers.

How We Support You

Our benzene monitoring process involves collecting urine samples from employees and analysing them in specialised laboratories to determine the extent of benzene absorption.

Urine sampling is a reliable method to assess internal exposure to benzene. By measuring the metabolites of benzene in the urine, we accurately quantify the absorbed levels. Our experienced team ensures a safe and confidential process, providing clear instructions to employees.

The urine samples are sent to state-of-the-art laboratories with stringent quality control measures. We provide detailed reports interpreting the results, highlighting elevated benzene metabolite levels, and recommending control measures to reduce exposure and comply with regulations.

We work closely with you to interpret the results and implement effective strategies such as engineering controls, improved ventilation, and employee training. Our goal is to create a safe workplace, protect employee health, and ensure regulatory compliance.

Main Benefits

Our benzene monitoring service provides several benefits, including:

  • Ensuring the health and safety of employees exposed to benzene.
  • Identifying high-risk areas with elevated benzene concentrations.
  • Implementing control measures to reduce exposure.
  • Complying with regulations and standards regarding benzene exposure.
  • Preventing long-term health effects associated with benzene exposure.
  • Early detection of potential hazards and timely intervention.

Ensuring Regulatory Compliance

Compliance with regulations is critical to safeguarding the health and well-being of employees and maintaining a safe working environment. Benzene is a hazardous substance, and its exposure is subject to various regulations and guidelines, such as the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations 2002. By utilising our Benzene Monitoring service, organisations can ensure compliance with these regulations and fulfil their legal obligations.

FAQ:

Inhaling high doses of benzene can lead to difficulty in thinking, changes in heart function, unconsciousness, or even death. Prolonged exposure to smaller amounts can decrease blood cell formation, and benzene is considered a cancer-causing chemical.

Symptoms of benzene exposure include drowsiness, dizziness, rapid or irregular heartbeat, headaches, tremors, confusion, unconsciousness, and, in extreme cases, death. Direct exposure to the eyes, skin, or lungs can cause tissue injury and irritation.

Benzene monitoring is crucial to assess the levels of benzene in the workplace, identify potential hazards, and implement control measures to protect the health and safety of employees.

If you are concerned about benzene exposure in your workplace or need benzene monitoring services, please contact us. Our experienced team can provide comprehensive monitoring solutions tailored to your specific needs. Ensure the well-being of your employees and maintain a safe working environment by taking proactive steps to monitor and manage benzene exposure.

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Among Healthscreen UK’s extensive range of services is that of Benzene monitoring. So, what exactly is this strange substance and why should you look out for it?

What is Benzene?

Benzene is a colourless or light yellowish chemical compound that is a liquid at room temperature. It originates partly from southwest Asia, where a resin that was known as ‘gum benzoin’ became popular with Europeans in the 16th century. Pharmacists in Europe derived from it an acidic material deemed ‘flowers of benzoin’ by a process of sublimation.

However, it wasn’t until 1825 that benzene was first isolated and identified in its pure form. The celebrated English scientist Michael Faraday used the oily residue derived from the production of illuminating gas and gave it the name ‘bicarburet of hydrogen’. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, the compound was used as an aftershave lotion due to its sweet, pleasant smell. Later, prior to the 1920s, it was used as an industrial solvent, particularly in the use of degreasing metal. It has also been used to decaffeinate coffee, as a paint stripper, spot remover and for many more besides.

It can occur as a by-product of coke production, and trace amounts can be found in petroleum and coal. In total, four chemical processes can result in industrial benzene production: catalytic reforming, toluene hydrodealkylation, toluene disproportionation and steam cracking. It is generally used as a means by which to make other chemicals, often in order to make polymers, plastics, rubbers, lubricants, dyes, detergents, drugs, explosives and pesticides.

Benzene molecules have even been detected on Mars, as it can be formed in volcanoes.

Why is it Important to Look Out For?

Up until the 1940s and early 50s, the health affects of benzene were not well-documented. However, after a study from the American Petroleum Institute (API), they found that it was extremely harmful. Indeed, their study concluded that ‘the only absolutely safe concentration for benzene is zero’. No safe exposure level exists, and even trace amounts can cause harm – not only is it a carcinogen (causes cancer) but it can also cause bone marrow failure, which occurs when people produce an insufficient amount of red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets.

Both combined can result in a number of catastrophic and terminal diseases, ranging from Fanconi amenia to dyskeratosis congenita to leukaemia. Since it is often found in hydrocarbon and gasoline fuels that are ubiquitous in modern society – in the US, it ranks among the top 20 chemicals for production volume – the exposure of humans to benzene is a worldwide health issue. In addition, it can target the liver, kidneys, lungs, heart and brain and even cause damage to DNA and chromosomal damage. Animals, too, can contract cancer from it, making it one of the most harmful substances around.

How Might I be Exposed to Benzene?

There are several (surprisingly common) ways in which you might be subjected to benzene exposure. If you’re outside in proximity to tobacco smoke, petrol stations, engine exhausts or industrial emissions then you could be exposed to the chemical, although generally it’s more of a risk indoors. Glues, paints, furniture wax and detergents are all important factors to look out for if you are operating in an enclosed space. Similarly, underground storage tanks and hazardous sites nearby which can contaminate the water are potential causes of exposure to benzene.

What Are the Symptoms of Benzene Exposure?

Those who breathe in a sufficient level of benzene may experience the following signs and symptoms:

Eating or consuming benzene can result in the following:

It should be noted that in either case, prolonged exposure can result in immediate death at a high enough dose. If someone has eaten or drank something with a high level of benzene, then it’s also possible that they may inhale any vomit back into their lungs, which in turn causes serious breathing difficulties and continual coughing. Likewise, if the chemical receives any direct contact with the skin, eyes or lungs, then you can expect substantial tissue damage.

How Can I Protect Myself From Benzene?

If you are working in an area with benzene in the air, then the first best practice is to move elsewhere to get fresh air. If you’re outdoors, move away from the initial area of release; if you’re indoors, you must evacuate the building.

Otherwise, if you think you have been exposed to benzene, then take the following steps:

  1. Remove Your Clothing

Any clothing that may have exposure to benzene is a risk. Take it off immediately, avoiding contaminated areas. Any item which needs to be pulled over your head should be cut off instead.

  1. Wash Yourself Thoroughly

You must wash yourself quickly and carefully with soap and water. If your eyes are affected, then you should rinse them for 10-15 mins. If you wear contact lenses or spectacles, then you should take them off beforehand and fully rinse them too.

  1. Dispense of Your Clothing

Once completely clean, you should place your clothing inside of a sealed plastic bag, avoiding any potential contaminated area, along with any other affected item. When emergency services arrive, you should tell them exactly what you did with your clothing and items. Bear in mind you should never handle the bag again after sealing.

  1. Contact Emergency Services

It is imperative that someone around you or yourself (if absolutely) necessary get in touch with emergency services immediately.

If you are concerned that you may have been exposed to benzene for a considerable amount of time, then don’t worry: We at Healthscreen UK are able to provide a variety of benzene screening methods to ascertain whether or not you have been damaged by it.

Click here to book an appointment today to get in touch if either you or someone you know has been affected: contact us.