Benzene is a molecule composed of 6 carbon atoms joined in a ring and 6 hydrogen atoms. Benzene is classified as a polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH). It’s a liquid substance, but at high temperatures it has a rapid volatilization process passing from a liquid phase into a gas phase. Benzene is either natural and can, for example, be generated by volcanic eruptions or is man-made.
In urban centres benzene is almost exclusively generated by human activities as vehicular traffic, oil-refining and fuel distribution. Its major sources are, in particular, exhaust emissions and to a lesser extent evaporation losses during the handling, distribution and storage of petrol. Tobacco smoke is an important source of benzene in indoor air, and median benzene levels have been found to be 35% higher in the homes of smokers than in non-smoking households. Benzene absorption occurs by inhalation, dermal route and ingestion and can cause chronic and/or acute effects. The most reported effect of chronic benzene exposure is potential carcinogenicity.

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