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Thursday, January 9, 1997, 12:00 p.m. EDT
Almost anyone over 35 can remember when benzene was used as a household solvent. In the basement workshop or under the kitchen cabinet, a mason jar full of benzene was a familiar sight.
Today most people encounter benzene as they smell its strong odor emitted when they pump their own gas. Benzene is the reason gas pump nozzles have the little rubber collars, to minimize the escaping fumes.
Unknowingly, smokers take in benzene with cigarette, cigar or pipe smoke, and their families may inhale it in secondhand smoke.
Benzene was long ago established as a cause of leukemia, and while it remains an unavoidable component of gasoline and tobacco smoke, it is researched, regulated and handled as a hazardous substance.
A new supplement issue of the scientific journal Environmental Health Perspectives (Volume 104, Supplement 6) compiles 49 articles, 320 pages, on benzene originally presented at Benzene '95, an international conference on the toxicity, carcinogeneses, and epidemiology of benzene held in Piscataway, N.J. The supplement was edited by Robert Snyder of Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. Supplement sections include exposure assessment, benzene metabolism, impact of benzene related biological reactive intermediates, benzene toxicity and leukomogeneses, chromosomal and genetic damage, recent studies of human exposure in China and Europe, pharmacokinetics and modeling, and benzene risk assessment.
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