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Benzene

General Description

Synonyms: Benzine; Benzol; Cyclohexatriene

OSHA IMIS code: 0320

CAS number: 71-43-2

Monitoring Methods used by OSHA

Primary Laboratory Sampling/Analytical Method:
  • recommended maximum volume: 12 L
  • recommended maximum flow rate: 0.05 L/min (TWA/STEL/Ceiling/Peak)
  • recommended minimum time: 15 min (STEL)
  • recommended minimum time: 10 min (Peak)
  • current analytical method: gas chromatography;GC/FID
  • analytical solvent: carbon disulfide
  • alternate solvent: (99:1) carbon disulfide:dimethylformamide
  • method reference: OSHA 1005 (fully validated)
  • sampling time: 10 to 240 min
  • current analytical method: gas chromatography;GC/FID
  • analytical solvent: carbon disulfide
  • alternate solvent: (99:1) carbon disulfide:dimethylformamide
  • method reference: OSHA 1005 (fully validated)
  • note: Persons using diffusive samplers to monitor workplace air must ensure that the sampling devices are properly closed before transporting such devices to the laboratory for analysis. The device will continue to sample until properly closed. Diffusive sampler accessories used for analysis of samplers must be included with transported samples. Persons using such devices must provide sampling-site station barometric pressure and temperature to the analytical laboratory to improve accuracy of sampling results.
  • sampling time: 10 to 240 min
  • current analytical method: gas chromatography;GC/FID
  • analytical solvent: carbon disulfide
  • alternate solvent: (99:1) carbon disulfide:dimethylformamide
  • method reference: OSHA 1005 (fully validated)
  • note: Persons using diffusive samplers to monitor workplace air must ensure that the sampling devices are properly closed before transporting such devices to the laboratory for analysis. The device will continue to sample until properly closed. Diffusive sampler accessories used for analysis of samplers must be included with transported samples. Persons using such devices must provide sampling-site station barometric pressure and temperature to the analytical laboratory to improve accuracy of sampling results.
On-Site Sampling Techniques/Methods:
  • model/type: 121
  • sampling information: 1 to 4 strokes
  • upper measurement limit: 120 ppm
  • detection limit: 0.5 ppm
  • overall uncertainty: 16.4% for 5 to 20 ppm, 8.2% for 20 to 60 ppm
  • method reference: on-site air secondary (SEI Certified)
  • model/type: 8014-118SC
  • sampling information: follow manufacturer's instructions
  • upper measurement limit: 100 ppm
  • detection limit: approximately 0.2 ppm
  • overall uncertainty: unknown
  • method reference: on-site air secondary (SEI Certified)
  • model/type: Benzene 5/b, order no. 67 28071
  • sampling information: 20 strokes
  • upper measurement limit: 50 ppm
  • detection limit: approximately 1 ppm
  • overall uncertainty: 25%
  • method reference: on-site air secondary (manufacturer)
Wipe Sampling Method:
  • charcoal pad from 3M 3500 or 3520 organic vapor monitor
  • note: Ship sample in a sealed 20 mL glass scintillation vial.
Bulk Method:
  • current analytical method: high performance liquid chromatography; HPLC/UV
  • method reference: OSHA 12 (fully validated)
  • note: Do not ship bulk samples with air samples.

Exposure Limits and Health Effects (Updated September 6, 2012)

Standard Set By Exposure Limit Health Effect Codes -- Health Effects and Target Organs
OSHA PEL - General Industry
See 29 CFR 1910.1028
1 ppm TWA
5 ppm STEL
HE1 -- leukemia
HE7 -- central nervous system excitation followed by central nervous system depression
HE8 -- loss of consciousness, respiratory paralysis, death (very high concentrations)
HE12 -- nonmalignant blood disorders (bleeding, anemia, aplastic anemia, thrombocytopenia, leukopenia)
HE14 -- eye, nose, and respiratory irritation
OSHA PEL - Sectors Excluded from General Industry
See 29 CFR 1910.1000 Table Z-2
(See also ANSI Z37.40-1969 - Note: These values apply to the industry segments exempt from the 1 ppm 8-hour TWA and 5 ppm STEL of the benzene standard at 29 CFR 1910.1028.)

10 ppm TWA 
25 ppm Ceiling 
50 ppm Maximum peak above ceiling (10 minutes)
HE12 -- blood disorders (anemia, leukopenia, aplastic anemia)
HE14 -- eye, nose, and respiratory irritation
OSHA PEL - Construction Industry 
See 29 CFR 1926.1128
1 ppm TWA 
5 ppm STEL
HE1 -- leukemia
HE7 -- central nervous system excitation followed by central nervous system depression
HE8 -- loss of consciousness, respiratory paralysis, death (very high concentrations)
HE12 -- nonmalignant blood disorders (bleeding, anemia, aplastic anemia, thrombocytopenia, leukopenia)
HE14 -- eye, nose, and respiratory irritation
OSHA PEL - Shipyard Employment 
See 29 CFR 1915.1028
1 ppm TWA 
5 ppm STEL
HE1 -- leukemia
HE7 -- central nervous system excitation followed by central nervous system depression
HE8 -- loss of consciousness, respiratory paralysis, death (very high concentrations)
HE12 -- nonmalignant blood disorders (bleeding, anemia, aplastic anemia, thrombocytopenia, leukopenia)
HE14 -- eye, nose, and respiratory irritation
NIOSH REL 0.1 ppm TWA 
1 ppm STEL 
Ca
HE1 -- leukemia
HE4 -- gastrointestinal irritation and anorexia; cardiac sensitization
HE7 -- central nervous system depression; convulsions and paralysis; polyneuritis
HE11 -- pulmonary edema, pneumonia
HE12 -- bone marrow damage, aplastic anemia
HE14 -- eye, mucous membrane, and skin irritation; dermatitis
ACGIH TLV® (1996) 0.5 ppm (1.6 mg/m3) TWA 
2.5 ppm (8 mg/m3) STEL 
A1
Skin
BEI®
HE1 -- leukemia, including acute myelogenous leukemia

CAL/OSHA PELs
(See also Section 5218)

1 ppm TWA 
5 ppm STEL 
Skin
 

Carcinogenic classification:

EPA Inhalation Reference Concentration (RfC): 3x10-2 mg/m3

ATSDR Inhalation Minimal Risk Levels (MRLs): 0.009 ppm (acute); 0.006 ppm (intermediate); 0.003 ppm (chronic)

NIOSH IDLH concentration: 500 ppm

Notes on other potential health effects and hazards:

  1. Benzene is a flammable liquid whose vapors can form explosive mixtures (NIOSH/IPCS 2003).
  2. While percutaneous absorption of liquid benzene through intact human skin can be limited, the absorbed dose via direct dermal contact, combined with that received from body surface exposure to benzene in workplace air, is such that a substantial fraction of the total exposure is due to skin absorption (ACGIH 2001).
  3. Phenol levels in urine have been used as an index of benzene exposure, where concentrations of 200 mg/L urine indicate an approximate exposure of 25 ppm benzene in air (OSHA 1980).
  4. Ventricular fibrillation has been suggested as the cause of death following benzene vapor exposures (ATSDR 2007).
  5. Myalgia has been reported as a symptom of exposure to benzene vapors (ATSDR 2007).
  6. Benzene may also affect the renal system, as kidney congestion has been found following fatal inhalational exposure (ATSDR 2007).
  7. An association may exist between occupational exposure to benzene and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and multiple myeloma (ATSDR 2007).
  8. Benzene appears to affect the immune system, where workers have been shown to have decreased levels of leukocytes and circulating antibodies (ATSDR 2007).
  9. Exposure to benzene is associated with aneuploidies in blood cells and sperm (Ji et al. 2012).
  10. Exposure to benzene may play a role in infertility, as workers have increased incidence of chromosomally defective sperm, which could result in spontaneous abortions, mental retardation, and inherited defects in their children (Marchetti et al. 2012).
  11. An association may exist between mothers exposed to benzene and children with spina bifida (Lupo et al. 2011).
  12. Exposure to benzene may increase the risk of acoustic neuroma, a benign intracranial tumor (Prochazka et al. 2010).
  13. In one study, no association was found between occupational benzene exposure and breast cancer (Peplonska et al. 2010). However, another study "moderately supports" an association between benzene and breast cancer (Costantini et al. 2009).

Partial reference list:

  • ACGIH: Documentation of the Threshold Limit Values (TLVs) and Biological Exposure Indices (BEIs) - Benzene. 2016.
  • ANSI (formerly United States of America Standards Institute): USA Standard Acceptable Concentrations of Benzene. September 1969.
  • ATSDR: Toxicological Profile for Benzene. 2007.
  • Costatini, A.S., Gorini, G., Consonni, D., Miligi, L., Giovannetti, L., Quinn, M.: Exposure to benzene and risk of breast cancer among shoe factory workers in Italy. Tumori. 95(1):8-12, January-February 2009.
  • Ji, Z., Weldon, R.H., Marchetti, F., Chen, H., Li, G., Xing, C., Kurtovich, E., Young, S., Schmid, T.E., Waidyanatha, S., Rappaport, S., Zhang, L., Eskenazi, B.: Comparison of aneuploidies of chromocomes 21, X, and Y in the blood lymphocytes and sperm of workers exposed to benzene. Environ Mol Mutagen. 53(3):218-26, April 2012.
  • Lupo, P.J., Symanski, E., Waller, D.K., Chan, W., Langlois, P.H., Canfield, M.A., Mitchell, L.E.: Maternal exposure to ambient levels of benzene and neural tube defects among offspring: Texas, 1999-2004. Environ Health Perspect. 119(3):397-402, March 2011.
  • Marchetti, F., Eskenazi, B., Weldon. R.H., Li, G., Zhang, L., Rappaport, S.M., Schmid, T.E., Xing, C., Kurtovich, E., Wyrobek, A.J.: Occupational exposure to benzene and chromosomal structural aberrations in the sperm of Chinese men. Environ Health Perspect. 120(2):229-34, February 2012.
  • NIOSH: Occupational Health Guideline - Benzene. 1988.
  • NIOSH/CEC/IPCS: International Chemical Safety CardBenzene. 2003.
  • OSHA: Occupational Safety and Health Standards, Substance safety data sheet - Benzene. 1910.1028 App A.
  • OSHA: Occupational Safety and Health Standards, Medical surveillance guidelines - Benzene. 1910.1028 App C.
  • Peplonska, B., Stewart, P., Szeszenia-Dabrowska, N., Lissowska, J., Brinton, L.A., Gromiec, J.P., Brzeznicki, S., Yang, X.R., Sherman, M., Garcia-Closas, M., Blair, A.: Occupational exposure to organic solvents and breast cancer in women. Occup Environ Med. 67(11):722-9, November 2010.
  • Prochazka, M., Feychting, M., Ahlbom, A., Edwards, C.G., Nise, G., Plato, N., Schwartzbaum, J.A., Forssen, U.M.: Occupational exposures and risk of acoustic neuroma. Occup Environ Med. 67(11):766-71, November 2010.

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