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Latest Edit: Iva 2012-08-04 (EDT)

Benzene is one of many toxic environmental chemicals. It is a component of crude and refined petroleum. The following provides some general information on benzene and it's impact to health.[1]


  • Automotive:
  • Automotive emissions, poor emission-control devices on older vehicles, poor maintenance practices, automotive-refueling operations.
  • Industrial Emissions:
  • Emissions during the production of xylene, toluene, styrene and other compounds, discharge of industrial wastewater from chemical plants, chemical manufacturing sites, and petrochemical and petroleum industries, used in the manufacture of styrofoam, resins, synthetic fibres and rubbers, gums, lubricants, dyes, glues, paints, and marking pens.
  • Used as a solvent in scientific labs, industrial paints, adhesives, paint removers/strippers, degressing agents, carburetor cleaner, rubber cements, some of the arts and crafts supplies, manufacture of faux leather and rubber goods.
  • Seepage from underground petroleum storage tanks, waste streams.
  • By-product of various combustion processes- wood burning, organic wastes, tobacco smoke. First and second-hand smoke accounts for the largest source of benzene exposure for the general public. The amount of benzene in a single cigarette may vary from 5.9-90 micrograms.
  • Occupational Exposure:
  • Industries that produce or use benzene or benzene-containing products- oil refineries, petroleum plants, tire manufacturers, paint and shoe manufacturing plant, petrol stations, active or passive cigarette-smoke inhalation, and areas of heavy vehicular traffic.
  • Interfering Factors:
  • Sorbic acid and potassium sorbate, common food preservatives, are metabolized to muconic acid, which may therefore cause elevations of this marker.
  • Sources include; processed cheese slices and spreads, salad dressings, mayonnaise, flavored drinks, canned foods, and baked goods. To eliminate this confounding variable, sorbic acid is assayed and reported on the patient's Environmental Pollutants Profile if detected.

Impact on Health


  • Following inhalation, most benzene is excreted through exhalation unchanged.
  • Benzene is metabolized by cytochrome P-450-dependent multifunction oxidase enzymes and excreted as conjugated derivatives (sulfates and glucoronides).
  • Benzene and its metabolites accumulates in lipid depots.


  1. USBiotek []