1. Eat Healthy
  2. Health and Wellness

What does benzene do to the human body?

There is hardly anyone that had an introduction to science that doesn’t know of the compound, benzene. It is one hydrocarbon that is commonly seen in petroleum and coal tar. It is very dangerous to our health and is hardly used as a solvent because of its dangerous carcinogenic properties.

As a side note benzene is not the same as benzoic acid. You can read more about benzoic acid here.

Why is Benzene bad for you

Benzene is dangerous to the body and is known to prevent the functioning of the cells. These are the conditions that can be triggered by the intake of benzene.


When benzene comes in contact with the circulatory system, it makes the bone marrow not to create the right amount of red blood cells. This, in turn, leads to a condition called anemia.

Loss of White Blood Cells

The presence of benzene in the body can really affect the immune system negatively. It reduces the number of antibodies, forcing the white blood cells to reduce drastically. The effects of benzene are usually based on how long the person has been exposed to it, how old the person, the amount the person was exposed to, as well as a prior medical condition.

When a person has been exposed to benzene, he or she notices the following signs almost immediately:

  • Intense dizziness and drowsiness
  • Migraines
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Confusion
  • Vomiting
  • Convulsion
  • Incessant Shaking
  • Unconsciousness, and worse, death.

The vomiting caused by consuming foods that have benzene can be drawn to the lungs, which can lead to coughing and bad breathing problems.

If benzene is exposed to your lungs, skin or eyes directly, it can worsen to irritation and injury of the tissue it comes in contact with. Benzene is so dangerous and should be avoided.

How Does It End Up In Products we Consume

Benzene is so dangerous that it is not naturally occurring in any foods, then how does it end up on a product?

Benzene found on food products may come from industrial emissions. Let’s say a farm is located near a factory that doesn’t properly dispose of its benzene waste; there is a great chance that the food would have benzene on it.

When a city is polluted, there is a great chance that much of the food grown there or manufactured there may have bits of the pollutants. Those crops that are grown in areas around waste sites or gas plants are known to have high concentrations of benzene. 

Where is Benzene Found

Benzene is found in outdoor air and comes from gas stations, tobacco smokes emission from industries, and so on.

What about indoor air? It can be plagued by a concentrate of benzene from glues, furniture wax, paints, as well as detergents.

Those areas surrounding gas stations are known to have high concentrations of benzene than any other place in the world. Sometimes benzene is kept in underground storage and can leak into the water supply. 

Those, who work in industries that use a lot of benzene are known to also suffer from ailments that are linked to benzene. One common source of benzene is tobacco smoke.

How Can You Recognize It on Labels?

Since benzene is not an ingredient in food items, you can’t see benzene written on the packages of products. How then do you know products that have benzene? When farmers and manufacturers are located in places that have high benzene concentrate, there is a great chance that the food you are consuming will have traces of benzene. It is important to know where your food comes from.

How to analyze if benzene is in your food