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Growing awareness of benzene as a significant health hazard

Entec, a provider of gas detection solutions, has added benzene to the large array of hazardous substances that their specialist equipment can detect.

Auckland-based Entec specialises in all aspects of gas detection, ranging from the sale, service and rental of single gas and multi-gas portable detectors, through to the specification, supply and installation of complex fixed point systems.

There is an increasing awareness amongst occupational health and H&S professionals of the risks associated with exposure to benzene (also known as benzol). Benzene is commonly found in refineries, chemical and petrochemical plants, foundries and fuel storage sites, and can also be found in ambient air as a product of combusted fuels.

Benzene is highly flammable, and occurs naturally in crude oil, natural gas and in some ground waters. It can also be produced as a by-product of combustion of fuels such as coal, oil, petrol and wood, and is also common in unleaded fuel. It is also present in cigarette smoke.

The World Health Organisation states “Human exposure to benzene has been associated with a range of acute and long-term adverse health effects and diseases, including cancer and aplastic anaemia. Public health actions are needed to reduce the exposure of both workers and the general population to benzene”.

With Entec’s focus on worker safety throughout NZ industries, they are working to raise awareness of the long-term health hazard. Classified as a group one carcinogen, prolonged exposure to benzene impacts red and white blood cells and can cause leukaemia.

One of Entec’s key suppliers is Ion Science, a British manufacturer which specialises in PID (photoionization) detection, the ideal way to detect and measure the presence of benzene in the atmosphere.

Entec and Ion Science presented a short seminar on the topic “the basics of benzene” in New Plymouth in late February in an effort to raise awareness among potentially impacted organisations.

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