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Benzene

Even at Low Levels, Benzene Exposure Harmful

Gasoline, auto emissions, cigarette smoke: All contain benzene ( search ), a toxin whose chronic exposure, even at relatively low doses, has been linked to leukemia.Now, research shows that airborne exposure even below U.S. occupational limits can lower levels of disease-fighting blood cells.But an expert from the American Cancer Society says there is no reason to be alarmed.The research appears in this week’s issue of Science. It is part of a long-term study evaluating effects of benzene exposure among factory workers in China.“For many years, people felt that these low-level exposures had no impact on human physiology, but this study shows they do,” says researcher Richard B. Hayes, PhD, a senior investigator at the National Cancer Institute. “Of course, it raises questions about long-term effects, like cancer. But we did not address that in this study,” he tells WebMD.His study comes on the heels of another report, published in August, that showed a link between childhood leukemia (...

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