Benzene - Related Solvents

Benzene (molecular formula C6H6) is a type of organic chemical compound that is primarily used throughout the chemical industry to make other chemicals and plastics. Benzene is the simplest possible aromatic hydrocarbon (AH), an organic chemical compound composed of hydrogen and carbon with one or more benzene rings.

Benzene is a colorless liquid that is highly flammable and toxic when inhaled, ingested or absorbed transdermally. Having been labeled a Class A carcinogen, benzene is linked with the development of cancer in humans, specifically acute myelogenous leukemia (AML), chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) and acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL). Benzene exposure has also been linked with the development of another serious blood disease called aplastic anemia. In addition, inhalation of this substance has been shown to cause a variety of birth defects, such as mental retardation. If the baby suffers a lack of oxygen (asphyxia) during the birthing process, he or she might also develop cerebral palsy, a condition affecting speech, thinking and other development processes.

In addition to benzene, there are a number of related solvents that are commonly used for a variety of commercial and industrial purposes. Four such benzene-related solvents include:


Toluene (molecular formula C7H8) is a type of aromatic hydrocarbon that is used as a solvent and raw material in a number of industrial processes (feedstock). Also called methylbenzene or phenylmethane, toluene is a clear, water-insoluble liquid that has a distinct odor similar to that of benzene.

Like benzene, toluene occurs naturally in crude oil and has been used as an anti-knocking additive in gasoline. Toluene is a common solvent, meaning that it is able to dissolve a number of substances, some of which include paints, paint thinners, printing ink, rubber, adhesives, leather tanners and lacquers.

Prolonged exposure to toluene vapors has been linked with the possible development of brain damage. Additionally, toluene soil-contamination can lead to ingestion of the toxic substance and a plethora of side effects including nausea and vomiting.


Naphthalene (molecular formula C10H8) is a type of aromatic chemical compound that has been categorized as a possible human carcinogen. Also called tar camphor, white tar and albo carbon, naphthalene is a white solid hydrocarbon and the single most abundant component of coal tar (from which it is predominantly produced).

Naphthalene molecules consist of two benzene rings fused together. Like benzene, naphthalene is a toxic substance, exposure to which has been linked with the development of a number of side effects, including: nausea / vomiting, blood in the urine, yellowing of the skin and diarrhea. The most serious naphthalene side effect is the possible development of a hematological disorder. Naphthalene exposure has been linked with the damage / destruction of red blood cells (hemolytic anemia).

Naphthalene is the primary component in mothballs, a commonly used household fumigant. The naphthalene mothball pellets release vapors with toxicity capable of eliciting fatal results in adult moth species. Additionally, naphthalene is also converted into phthalic anhydride, a reactive compound that is commonly used in the manufacture of certain dyes, solvents and plastics.


Borazine (molecular formula B3N3H6) is a type of inorganic compound that is often referred to as inorganic benzene. Borazine is a clear, colorless liquid with a distinct odor similar to that of benzene and toluene.

Borazine has the same colligative properties (boiling point elevation, freezing point depression, osmotic concentration, etc.) as benzene even though the two are remarkably different from a chemical point of view. Additionally, borazine is significantly more reactive than benzene.


Cyclohexane (molecular formula C6H12) is a type of chemical compound of the cycloalkane variety. A cycloalkane has one or more carbon rings onto which hydrogen atoms are attached at a ratio of two hydrogen atoms for every one carbon atom (CxH2x).

In addition to its common use as a nonpolar solvent, cyclohexane is also used industrially as a raw material in the production of hexanedioic acid (adipic acid) and caprolactam, two intermediates that are used in the production of nylon, an extremely strong synthetic polymer.

Exposure to benzene or any of its related solvents can cause a variety of serious, potentially fatal medical conditions. If you suspect that your symptoms or the disease of your loved one was caused by exposure to these harmful substances, contact an experienced personal injury attorney to determine if compensation might be available. In cases whereby a loved one has died due to benzene-related illness, a skilled wrongful death lawyer might help you hold those responsible for you suffering financially liable.

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