Benzene is an organic chemical compound sometimes known as benzol. It has a particularly sweet smell and is a colorless, flammable liquid. Because of its sweet smell, benzene was used in aftershave in the 19th century. Before the 1920s it was regularly used as an industrial solvent. This was before people became aware of toxic benzene danger.
Michael Faraday discovered benzene in 1825 when he isolated it from oil gas to form a chemical, six parts carbon, six parts hydrogen. Benzene is produced during incomplete combustion of carbon-rich substances. Benzene is produced naturally in forest fires and volcanoes. Benzene is a known carcinogen and a major compound in cigarette smoke. Until World War II, benzene was manufactured as a by-product of coal production, specifically by the steel industry.
In the 1950s, there was a growing demand for benzene, especially from the plastics industry. Out of this need, manufacturers began producing benzene from petroleum. Most of today’s benzene supply comes from the petrochemical industry, with only a small amount obtained from coal.
Benzene was once widely used as an additive to gasoline, but this practice was also abandoned due to health concerns though benzene is still used as an anti-knock agent in unleaded gas.
Benzene danger is mostly commonly used as an additive to other chemicals. It is used to make styrene, which is used to make plastics and polymers, and in the manufacturing process of nylon. Small amounts of benzene are used in the manufacturing processes of drugs, detergents, synthetic rubbers, dyes, pesticides, and explosives. Benzene is less dense than water and will float on the surface of water.
Benzene is still widely used in the United States and ranks among the top 20 chemicals produced. Benzene has been found in several hazardous waste sites in the United States which have been identified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Benzene has also been found in contaminated aquifer ground water. Benzene danger is a health risk and can be lethal.