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What Is the Danger of Benzene for Alabama Residents?

Posted on July 4, 2018

Benzene is a clear, flammable chemical found in coal tar and petroleum. It is one of the most widely-used chemicals in the country, used mainly as a solvent. Plastics, detergents, pesticides, rubber, lubricants, dyes, and other chemicals often contain benzene. Benzene is a dangerous, carcinogenic chemical that could cause terminal cancers and other serious illnesses. A recent Reuters report states that the World Health Organization (WHO) might have left out key findings when it said workers were not “unreasonably exposed” to benzene.

Benzene Exposure in Alabama

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, exposure to benzene, such as inhaling the fumes as it evaporates into the air, could potentially cause cells to start failing. For example, bone marrow exposed to benzene might not produce enough red blood cells, contributing to anemia. Long-term exposure could potentially cause harmful effects in the blood and on the immune system, as well as certain types of cancer. The Department of Health and Human Services reports that long-term benzene exposure can cause leukemia.

Those most at risk of serious, long-term exposure to the toxic chemical benzene are workers in the manufacturing industry. Anyone who works at manufacturing plants where the items use or contain benzene might be breathing in fumes daily. Employers might not have safety equipment or standards in place to prevent benzene exposure due to the lack of awareness surrounding the dangers of this chemical. Benzene is also present in tobacco smoke, car exhaust, and industrial emissions. Gas station workers and others may also suffer illnesses from benzene exposure.

You might have a benzene-related health condition if you start experiencing symptoms such as dizziness, headaches, drowsiness, confusion, vomiting, convulsions, or tremors. These are symptoms that can appear immediately after benzene exposure. Long-term effects can impact red blood cells, bleeding, immune system, and risk of infections. In pregnant women, exposure to benzene could cause low birth weights and delayed bone formation (based on animal studies).

Diagnosed with a Benzene-Related Medical Problem? Act Now

If a physician in Alabama recently diagnosed you or a loved one with cancer or another illness that could relate to benzene exposure, contact a lawyer right away. Like all states, Alabama’s statute of limitations limits how long an injured plaintiff has to file a personal injury claim. In general, you have two years counting from the date of your injuries to bring a claim. Outside of this window, you lose your right to file and seek damages. With benzene, however, a victim might not receive a diagnosis until several years after the date of exposure.

Luckily, the Alabama Supreme Court ruled in 2008 that the statute of limitations will begin on the date of diagnosis or discovery of illness, rather than the date of benzene exposure. This is a very important distinction, as it gives those with chemical-exposure-related cancers and illnesses more time to file their claims. The clock for all toxic tort claims in Alabama now starts ticking on the date of discovery rather than the date of exposure. You have two years from the date a doctor diagnoses you with myelogenous leukemia or other benzene-related illness to file.

In the event that your loved one passed away due to benzene-related cancer or other illness, you have two years from the date of his or her death to file your claim. Don’t wait to file your personal injury/toxic tort claim in Alabama. Two years after your diagnosis or a loved one’s wrongful death might seem like a long time, but it takes time to craft a case, gather evidence, and bring your claim against the party that exposed you to the benzene. The sooner you discuss your case with a Birmingham personal injury lawyer, the better.