The medical tests available to measure benzene in the body

By Michael Bartlett

Posted on February 01st, 2022

If you have been using sunscreen with benzene, the chemical has inevitably reached your bloodstream through skin absorption. Furthermore, you might have also inhaled benzene, as most contaminated products were aerosol sunscreen. Luckily, there are multiple tests you can undergo to see the amount of benzene you have in your body.

When it comes to benzene exposure from sunscreen, the two routes of exposure are skin absorption and inhalation. The latter is considered the most dangerous by medical experts, as it directly reaches the lungs, from where it can travel anywhere in the body. If someone is exposed to benzene in the air, roughly half of the chemical they breathe in goes through the lining of their lungs and enters their bloodstream. As for skin absorption, a small amount will enter their body by passing through their skin and reaching their bloodstream during skin contact with sunscreen that contains it.

However, once in the bloodstream, the chemical travels throughout the body and can be temporarily stored in the bone marrow and fat. Benzene is subsequently converted to byproducts, known as metabolites, in the liver and bone marrow. Some of the negative health consequences of benzene exposure are caused by these metabolites. It is important to note that most of the benzene metabolites leave the body through the urine within 48 hours after exposure, so if you wish to undergo benzene testing, you should do it within two days after your last exposure.

Medical specialists can look for benzene and metabolites in your breath, urine, and blood

Breath test

Usually, benzene tests will measure the level of phenol, the primary metabolite of the chemical. There is a breath test for benzene, but it might not be very effective in the context of exposure from tainted sunscreen, as the chemical is mostly absorbed by the skin in this case and will not show up during a breath test. Even if the person might have inhaled a little benzene while applying aerosol sunscreen, it will most likely not show up during the breath test, so a more conclusive test should be done instead.

Blood test

If someone has been using adulterated sunscreen regularly, there is a high chance that benzene will appear as a chemical lurking in their blood if they undergo a blood test within 2-4 days after their last product use. Unfortunately, blood tests might not be useful for detecting low benzene concentrations in the blood, but if you have been applying benzene sunscreen daily, multiple times a day, for several months, it can show up.

Urine test

The third available test for benzene is a urine test, which will measure the level of muconic acid, another byproduct of the chemical, as measuring phenol is ineffective because this metabolite can come from other sources in the body. Similarly, exposed people should undergo a urine test for benzene as soon as possible following their last use of tainted sunscreen, as there is a risk of the chemical not showing up on test results.

Bone marrow test

Lastly, a more invasive test for benzene is examining your bone marrow, as it is a known fact that the chemical wreaks havoc on the bone marrow over time, leading to acute myeloid leukemia, among other terrible diseases. A surgeon will collect a sample of bone marrow by aspiration, which will provide a sample of fluid, or by biopsy, which will provide a sample of solid tissue. Undergoing a bone marrow aspiration or biopsy can also tell the medical specialist the following:

  • whether the bone marrow has been affected by benzene
  • whether the person has a risk of developing acute myeloid leukemia
  • whether the person has a myelodysplastic syndrome, which precedes leukemia
  • whether the bone marrow produces a healthy amount of blood cells

Benzene is quickly metabolized and excreted preponderantly at a low exposure level as conjugated urinary metabolites such as phenol. However, at a higher exposure level, metabolic pathways become saturated, and a significant portion of the absorbed dose of benzene is excreted in exhaled air. Both of these elimination processes of benzene happen rapidly, so if you suspect you were exposed, have bothersome symptoms, or need evidence of exposure, we encourage you to contact a licensed, professional laboratory to have your blood or urine tested.

Our experienced attorneys and legal team will help you file a benzene sunscreen claim

Since 1990, we have been offering victims of toxic exposure high-quality legal services to obtain the financial compensation they were entitled to from the liable parties. If you have been using benzene sunscreen and developed acute myeloid leukemia, please do not hesitate to contact our legal team, as you are most likely eligible to file a claim. After calling our staff, you just have to describe your situation, answer our questions, and send our experts a copy of your medical records.

Our lawyers will determine whether you can file a benzene sunscreen claim following a thorough assessment. If you do, they will soon take care of it and carefully prepare it for submission. Until resolution, you can carry on with your life as usual, as we will do the hard work for you. We know that very ill people often need extra time to rest and undergo treatment. In the end, you will benefit from the largest sum of money available for your case.