What it’s used for:
Benzene is produced by volcanoes and forest fires and is a byproduct of crude oil production. It’s been used in paints, varnishes, and gasoline, as well as an ingredient in vet medicines that kill parasites2. Tobacco smoke is also a major source of benzene1.
How it affects the body:
Inhaling benzene can cause dizziness, tremors, confusion, and rapid or irregular heartbeat. Long-term exposure to benzene can cause your body’s cells to not work correctly, damaging things like bone marrow and your immune system. It’s also a carcinogen, which means that it’s known to cause cancer2.