CAS No. 71-43-2

Benzene (C6H6) is a highly flammable, colorless liquid that evaporates quickly into the air. It is harmful to the eyes, skin, airway, nervous system, and lungs. Benzene can cause blood cancers like leukemia.  Workers may be harmed from exposure to benzene. The level of exposure depends upon the dose, duration, and work being done

Benzene is found in products that are made from coal and petroleum. Lubricants, plastics, rubbers, dyes, and other chemicals can be produced with benzene. Some examples of workers at risk of benzene exposure include the following:

  • Factory workers where steel or rubber is made or processed
  • Workers in the printing industry or who work around printing inks
  • Fire fighters who come in contact with toxic smoke
  • Workers in gas stations, shoe making or repair, and who work in laboratories

NIOSH recommends that employers use Hierarchy of Controls to prevent injuries.  If you work in an industry that uses benzene, please read chemical labels and the accompanying Safety Data Sheet for hazard information. Visit NIOSH’s page on Managing Chemical Safety in the Workplace to learn more about controlling chemical workplace exposures.

The following resources provide information about occupational exposure to benzene. Useful search terms for benzene include “benzol” and “phenyl hydride.”

NIOSH Chemical Resources

Logo of NIOSH Pocket Guide

The NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards (NPG) helps workers, employers, and occupational health professionals recognize and control workplace chemical hazards.

Logo of Manual of Analytical Methods.

The NIOSH Manual of Analytical Methods (NMAM) is a collection of methods for sampling and analysis of contaminants in workplace air, and in the blood and urine of workers who are occupationally exposed.

Logo of Health Hazard Evaluations consisting of three letters: HHE

The Health Hazard Evaluation Program (HHE) conducts onsite investigations of possible worker exposure to chemicals. Search the HHE database for more information on benzene.

Related NIOSH Resources

Selected Publications

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International Resources

Page last reviewed: May 17, 2018