| Return to index
Substance Safety Data Sheet, Benzene
I. Substance Identification
A. Substance: Benzene
(B) Permissible Exposure: Except as to the use of gasoline, motor fuels and other fuels subsequent to discharge from bulk terminals and other exemptions specified in section 5218(a)(2):
1. Airborne: The maximum time-weighed average exposure limit is 1 part of benzene vapor per million parts of air (1 ppm) for an 8-hour workday and the maximum short-term exposure limit (STEL) is 5 ppm as averaged over a 15-minute sampling period.
2. Dermal: Eye contact must be prevented and skin contact with liquid benzene must be limited.
C. Appearance and odor: Benzene is a clear, colorless liquid with a pleasant, sweet odor. The odor of benzene does not provide adequate warning of its hazard.
II. Health Hazard Data
A. Ways in which benzene affects your health. Benzene can affect your health if you inhale it, or if it comes in contact with your skin or eyes. Benzene is also harmful if you happen to swallow it.
B. Effects of Overexposure.
1. Short-term (acute) Overexposure: If you are overexposed to high concentrations of benzene, well above the levels where its odor is first recognizable, you may feel breathless, irritable, euphoric, or giddy; you may experience irritation in your eyes, nose, and respiratory tract. You may develop a headache, feel dizzy, nauseated, or intoxicated. Severe exposures may lead to convulsions and loss of consciousness.
2. Long-term (chronic) Exposure. Repeated or prolonged exposure to benzene, even at relatively low concentrations, may result in various blood disorders, ranging from anemia to leukemia, an irreversible, fatal disease. Many blood disorders associated with benzene exposure may occur without symptoms.
III. Protective Clothing and Equipment.
A. Respirators. Respirators are required for those operations in which engineering controls or work practice controls are not feasible to reduce exposure to the permissible level. However, where employers can document that benzene is present in the workplace less than 30 days a year, respirators may be used in lieu of engineering controls. If respirators are worn, they must have joint Mine Safety and Health Administration and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) seal of approval, and cartridges or canisters must be replaced before the end of their service life, or the end of the shift, whichever occurs first. If you experience difficulty breathing while wearing a respirator, you may request a positive pressure respirator from your employer. You must be thoroughly trained to use the assigned respirator, and the training will be provided by your employer.
B. Protective Clothing. You must wear appropriate protective clothing (such as boots, gloves, sleeves, aprons, etc.) over any parts of your body that could be exposed to liquid benzene.
C. Eye and Face Protection. You must wear splash-proof safety goggles if it is possible that benzene may get into your eyes. In addition, you must wear a face shield if your face could be splashed with benzene liquid.
IV. Emergency and First-Aid Procedures.
A. Eye and Face Exposure. If benzene is splashed in your eyes, wash it out immediately with large amounts of water. If irritation persists or vision appears to be affected see a doctor as soon as possible.
B. Skin Exposure. If benzene is spilled on your clothing or skin, remove the contaminated clothing and wash the exposed skin with large amounts of water and soap immediately. Wash contaminated clothing before you wear it again.
C. Breathing. If you or any other person breathes in large amounts of benzene, get the exposed person to fresh air at once. Apply artificial respiration if breathing has stopped. Call for medical assistance or a doctor as soon as possible. Never enter any vessel or confined space where the benzene concentration might be high without proper safety equipment and at least one other person present who will stay outside. A life line should be used.
D. Swallowing. If benzene has been swallowed and the patient is conscious, do not induce vomiting. Call for medical assistance or a doctor immediately.
V. Medical Requirements
If you are exposed to benzene at a concentration at or above 0.5 ppm as an 8-hour time weighted average, or have been exposed above 10 ppm in the past while employed by your current employer, your employer is required to provide an initial medical examination and history and laboratory tests and annually thereafter. These tests shall be provided without cost to you. In addition, if you are accidentally exposed to benzene (either by ingestion, inhalation, or skin/eye contact) under emergency conditions known or suspected to constitute toxic exposure to benzene, your employer is required to make special laboratory tests available to you.
VI. Observation of Monitoring
Your employer is required to perform measurements that are representative of your exposure to benzene and you or your designated representative are entitled to observe the monitoring procedure. You are entitled to observe the steps taken in the measurement procedure and to record the results obtained. When the monitoring procedure is taking place in an area where respirators or personal protective clothing and equipment are required to be worn, you or your representative must also be provided with, and must wear the protective clothing and equipment.
VII. Access to Records
You or your representative are entitled to see the records of measurements of your exposure to benzene upon written request to your employer. Your medical examination records can be furnished to yourself, your physician or designated representative upon request by you to your employer.
VIII. Precautions for Safe Use, Handling and Storage
Benzene liquid is highly flammable. It should be stored in tightly closed containers in a cool, well ventilated area. Benzene vapor may form explosive mixtures in air. All sources of ignition must be controlled. Use nonsparking tools when opening or closing benzene containers. Fire extinguishers, where provided, must be readily available. Know where they are located and how to operate them. Smoking is prohibited in areas where benzene is used or stored. Ask your supervisor where benzene is used in your area and for additional plant safety rules.
NOTE: Authority cited: Sections 142.3, 9020, 9030 and 9040, Labor Code. Reference: Sections 142.3, 9004(d), 9009, 9020, 9030, 9031 and 9040, Labor Code.
1. New section 5218 and Appendices A-E filed 4-20-90; operative 5-20-90 (Register 90, No. 23).