We can test for BTEX (benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylenes) in real time and can detect concentrations as low as 5 ppb (parts per billion).
Benzene is a colorless liquid with a sweet odor. Exposure routes are inhalation, ingestion, skin and-or eye contact, and through skin absorption. It evaporates quickly and dissolves in water. Benzene is highly flammable and very toxic. Eating foods or drinking liquids containing high levels of benzene can cause vomiting, irritation of the stomach, dizziness, sleepiness, convulsions, rapid heart rate, coma, and death. Inhaling or breathing benzene for sustained periods affects the tissues that form blood cells, especially the bone marrow. This can disrupt normal blood production and lead to anemia or cause excessive bleeding. Benzene exposure can harm the immune system, increasing the chance for infection and perhaps lowering the body’s defense against cancer.
Long-term exposure to benzene can cause cancer of the blood-forming organs (leukemia.) Exposure to benzene has been associated with development of a particular type of leukemia called acute myeloid leukemia (AML)
The Dept of Health and Human Services classifies Benzene as a known carcinogen, specifically causing anemia and leukemia. Any toxic chemical is a danger factor in tightly constructed new homes. A major source of benzene exposure is tobacco smoke. Outdoor air contains low levels of benzene from tobacco smoke, automobile service stations, exhaust from motor vehicles, and industrial emissions. Indoor air contains higher levels of benzene from products such as glues, paints, furniture wax, and detergent. Air around hazardous waste sites, gas stations or close proximity to factory emissions will contain higher levels.
The most current and authoritative list of chemicals that are recognized to cause cancer is California’s Proposition 65. Substances are placed on the Proposition 65 list of chemicals “known to the state of California to cause cancer” if an independent science advisory board has concluded they possess sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in animals or humans, or if an authoritative organization such as the International Agency for Research on Cancer or the National Toxicology Program have reached a similar conclusion, or if a federal regulatory agency requires a cancer warning label. The current Proposition 65 List of Carcinogens (July 2004) can be obtained from: Proposition 65 List