What to Do If You are Exposed to Benzene?

If you are exposed to benzene, take the following steps, as recommended by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS):

Breathing Benzene

If benzene is in the air, move away from the source or affected area and go somewhere where you can breathe fresh air, such as outdoors. If necessary, get out of the building if benzene is released indoors.

Benzene on Clothing

Remove clothing that has been contaminated by benzene by cutting it off—do not pull your clothes over your head as benzene might get into your face, eyes, mouth and nose. Do not touch the contaminated area directly and remove the clothes immediately. Use rubber gloves if possible.

Properly dispose of the contaminated clothes by putting them in a plastic or garbage bag, taking care not to touch the contaminated area. In addition to using rubber gloves, you may want to use tongs, sticks, or anything else to move the clothing.

Dispose of everything else that has come in contact with the contaminated clothing. Seal the bag properly, and put the bag in another. Let the health department or emergency personnel know of what you have done with the clothes.

Benzene on Skin or in Eyes

Use soap and water to wash away benzene if it comes in contact with your skin. If it gets in your eyes, rinse it off with water for 10 to 15 minutes. If you wear contact lens, wash your hands thoroughly and remove your contact lenses. Discard them by putting them in the bag where you have put your contaminated clothing. Eyeglasses can be washed with soap and water and can still be used.

Ingesting Benzene

Get medical help as soon as possible if someone has ingested benzene. Never induce vomiting or perform CPR as it can also cause vomiting. Vomit may be sucked into the lungs of the victim and cause damage.

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