Sure, you may joke about being “allergic” to work or having a case of the “Mondays” but could your work place actually be putting your health at risk? According to recent studies, it looks like more and more instances of non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a deadly form of cancer, are being linked to exposure to benzenes in the workplace. So, what are benzenes, and might they be at your place of work? Keep reading to find out more!
What is Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma?
Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is a cancer of the lymphoid system and is comprised of several different types of cancer. The World Health Organiza- tion (WHO) has identified several different types of Lymphoma, only one of which has been identified as Hodgkin’s disease. The 30 different types of non-Hodgkin’s Disease range from indolent to aggressive. And, many have now been linked to exposure of benzene in the workplace.
Symptoms of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
The symptoms of this disease mirror many other conditions. They include weight loss, fatigue and loss of appetite as well as enlarged lymph nodes. Most people who end up being diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s often initially go to the doctor thinking that they have a case of the flu that has not gone away over a normal course of time. Lymphoma is diagnosed by a series of blood tests.
Benzene in the Workplace
The type of industry in which you work may or may not include the use of benzenes, which are a known carcinogen. The danger of benzenes was not necessarily known years ago and many people who worked in such industries such as those that produced plastic, resin, nylon, lubricants, detergents and pesticides may have had a significant exposure to benzene. Other industries where benzenes were found include those that produced glue, paint, furniture wax and detergent. Benzene is highly flammable and evaporates quickly into the air. It can harm the bone marrow and also interfere with the production of red blood cells. This can result in anemia as well as more serious problems, such as lymphoma.
Protection against Benzenes
If you work in an industry where benzenes are used, then your employer must inform you of the risk. He or she must also make sure that you wear proper protective coverings, including a facial mask so that you do not breathe in the toxic fumes from this byproduct.
Those who have spent years working in an industry where benzenes were used are at an increased risk of developing Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, although no one is quite sure why some will develop the disease and others do not. The best protection against this condition is to know the workplace and ensure proper protection.
Other Risks of Benzenes
In addition to being linked to lymphoma, benzene exposure has also been linked to leukemia. Contrary to popular belief, leukemia is more prevalent in adults than children and is often linked to workplace exposure to a toxic substance.
In order to keep your workplace from making you sick, you need to examine the type of industry that you are in as well as the products that are used. Take proper precautions to avoid inhaling or coming into contact with benzenes.
Most employers today are aware of the effect of toxic chemicals on their employees. If you are working with benzenes, you have a right to make sure you are protected against the harmful effects of these products.