Posted March 2016
Why am I being warned about potential exposure to benzene?
- Benzene is on the Proposition 65 list because it can cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm.
- Exposure to benzene can cause leukemia.
- Exposure to benzene during pregnancy may affect development of the child. It may also harm the male reproductive system.
- Proposition 65 requires businesses to determine if they must provide a warning about exposures to listed chemicals.
What is benzene?
- Benzene is a colorless and highly flammable liquid with a sweet smell. It evaporates into the air quickly.
- Benzene, while not in the final product, is used in the manufacture of drugs, dyes, insecticides, plastics, resins, rubber, detergents, and other chemicals.
- Benzene is present in natural gas and petroleum products such as crude oil and gasoline.
- Gasoline, motor vehicle exhaust and industrial emissions are major sources of benzene in the air.
- Tobacco smoke contains benzene.
How does exposure to benzene occur?
- During pregnancy, benzene can pass from the mother to the baby.
How can I reduce my exposure to benzene?
- Do not smoke. Do not allow children to breathe tobacco smoke.
- Limit your and children’s contact with gasoline and its fumes.
- Pump gasoline carefully to avoid exposure to liquid and fumes. If possible, stand a few steps away from the gasoline-pump nozzle while filling your car.
- Limit time spent near idling car engines.
- Do not idle car engines in attached garages.
- Ventilate homes and attached garages well to get fresh air.
- If you use well water, have it tested for benzene contamination. (If your water comes from a public supplier, it is already tested regularly for benzene).
- If you think you may have a natural gas leak in your home, such as a low-level leak associated with any natural gas-powered appliance, have it inspected and fixed. If there is a strong gas odor, leave the building immediately.
For more information:
General Benzene Fact Sheets and Resources:
- American Cancer Society
- US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR)
- US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
- World Health Organization (WHO)
Scientific Information on Benzene: