Benzene is a light hydrocarbon and a natural component of crude oil. It is a common petrochemical compound benzeneused as a solvent and in petrochemical manufacturing. Benzene a known human carcinogen with short- and long-term health effects.

Appearance: Colorless liquid or gas.

Odor: Sweet, aromatic, like solvent, like gasoline. Odorless at health effects levels.


Mobile: Cars, trucks, trains, and marine vessels.

Stationary: Oil refineries and chemical plants.

Exposure Effects

Short-term (acute): Light exposure: Dizziness, headache, vertigo, and irritation of the eyes, skin, and respiratory tract.

Medium exposure: nausea, vomiting, drowsiness, tremor, delirium, and loss of consciousness.

Fatal exposure: 20,000 ppm for 5-10 minutes.

Long-term (chronic): Blood disorders, reproductive impacts to women and fetuses, and leukemia. Known human carcinogen.

Health Standards

Texas Commission on Environmental Quality Effects Screening Level:

Short term (1 hour): 58 parts per billion (ppb).

Long term (1 year): 1.4 ppb.

Odor: 1,700 ppb.

Environmental Protection Agency Corrective Action Level (2 weeks): 2.8 ppb at the fenceline of an oil refinery.