Benzene structure formula

BENZENE

What is it?

“Benzene is an important organic chemical compound with the chemical formula C6H6. The benzene molecule is composed of 6 carbon atoms joined in a ring with 1 hydrogen atom attached to each. Because it contains only carbon and hydrogen atoms, benzene is classed as a hydrocarbon.” Wikipedia

Benzene health effects

This substance belongs to the groups:

This is one of those chemicals where there is no question about its adverse effects. The negative effects of benzene, as you can see above, are not only harmful to us humans but also for the environment.

These are the benzene hazards that The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) have identified:

  • may cause genetic defects
  • may cause cancer
  • causes damage to organs through prolonged or repeated exposure
  • causes serious eye irritation
  • causes skin irritation
  • is harmful to aquatic life with long lasting effects
  • may be fatal if swallowed and enters airways
  • is a highly flammable liquid and vapor.

The list is long and without a doubt serious. And if you are concerned about the adverse effects of chemicals, benzene exposure is unquestionably something that you want to avoid.

Use Curious Chloride’s free Ingredient Scanner to avoid the negative effects of benzene. Simply scan a page and all ingredients of concern are highlighted, so you can avoid products with benzene easy.

Benzene cancer

Perhaps most well documented is the fact that benzene is a carcinogen. This is something the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, a project of Breast Cancer Prevention Partners also warns about. Above all, they highlight that benzene causes cancer and is as well a developmental toxicant.

Also, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has identified benzene as a human carcinogen. The reason behind benzene’s carcinogenic properties is, simplified, due to it reacting with our DNA. It causes our cells to disrupt and stop functioning properly.

Because of these reasons, benzene is often replaced by other less carcinogenic chemicals. In addition, it is in many places also prohibited to use. Both in the EU and in Canada it is prohibited to in cosmetic products.

Benzene uses

Household and cosmetic products with benzene

As above mentioned, due to the negative effects of benzene, it is in many places prohibited for used in cosmetic products*.

However, there are still reports of it being found in products such as:

  • conditioners
  • styling lotions and gels
  • dryer sheets
  • detergents

Other products with benzene

Within the chemical industry, benzene uses are mainly to produce other chemicals. However, because of benzenes health effects and many restrictions, it is not used as a solvent in the same extent as it was before.

Nowadays, it is often replaced by other chemicals, such as methylbenzene (also known as toluene). This is problematic as it is a chemical with its own serious concerns.

Some benzene products and materials that you can still find are for instance:

  • pharmaceuticals
  • food packaging
  • toys
  • candles (NOTE – watch out for toxic fumes!)
  • carpets
  • paints
  • dyes
  • inks
  • solvents.

We use the European Commissions definition of Cosmetics:
“Cosmetics range from everyday hygiene products such as soap, shampoo, deodorant, and toothpaste to luxury beauty items including perfumes and makeup”.

Read about the other ingredients.

SUBSTANCES

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