Human exposure to benzene has been associated with a range of acute and long term adverse health effects and diseases, including cancer and aplastic anaemia. Exposure can occur occupationally and domestically as a result of the ubiquitous use of benzene- containing petroleum products including motor fuels and solvents. Active and passive exposure to tobacco smoke is also a significant source of exposure.
Benzene is highly volatile and exposure occurs mostly through inhalation. Interventions to reduce both work and general population exposure include promoting the use of alternative solvents in industrial processes, developing and implementing policies and legislation to remove benzene from consumer products, discouraging domestic use of benzene-containing products, stopping smoking, and promoting building codes requiring detached garages.
Short information documents for decision makers
Norms and guidance values
- Guidelines for drinking-water quality (Fourth edition), Benzene, chapter 12.1, p 322
Benzene in drinking water
- Air Quality Guidelines, Benzene, 2000, pp62-66 (pdf)
Most recent WHO evaluation and risk assessment documents
- Benzene. Environmental Health Criteria 150
- Benzene. Poisons Information Monograph 63
- Benzene, IARC Monograph, 2012, pp 249-285
- Benzene. International Chemical Safety Card 0015