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Were you exposed to Benzene at work?

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Benzene Danger To Bone Marrow'

Dec 21, 2004 | The Star

New research has shown that exposure to small doses of the chemical benzene found in second-hand cigarette smoke, petrol vapours, and air pollution may could lead to health problems.

Scientists have known that workers in industries like oil and shipping who are exposed to high doses of the substance run an increased risk of having their bone marrow altered and developing leukaemia. But the potential dangers from smaller amounts of the chemical have been unclear.

The new study, published in the magazine Science, shows that workers who inhaled less than one part per million (ppm) of benzene - an exposure considered safe under United States occupational guidelines had fewer white blood cells than
unexposed workers.

"It really breaks new ground on the potential effects of low levels," said toxicologist Bernard Goldstein of the University of Pittsburgh's School of Public Health.

Scientists from the US National Cancer Institute, the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, the University of California, Berkeley and other institutions conducted a 16-month study.

It compared 250 workers exposed to benzene-laden glues in two shoe factories in China to 140 unexposed workers who sewed clothes in other Chinese factories.

They took urine samples and tested air in the factories, as well as at each worker's home.

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