Benzene Still in Drinks?

This entire story amazes me.  What the heck is Benzene doing in drinks?  I'm practically speechless over it.

Nearly one out of ten of 200 beverage samples analyzed in a recent study by the EPA and FDA still had benzene levels above the U.S. EPA drinking water limit of 5 parts per billion (ppb).

Many manufacturers have reformulated their products to minimize or eliminate benzene. In these reformulated products, benzene levels were 1.1 ppb or less. About 71 percent of beverage samples contained less than 1 ppb.


Benzene is not something you want to be consuming as it has been linked to leukemia and other problems. It is usually found in pollutants such as car exhaust fumes. Ironically, the main reason it’s in soft drinks these days is because some manufacturers have added vitamin C to their beverages in an effort to make them seem more healthy.


Benzene Exposure Failure to Warn Claim preempted by OSHA

What does that mean?  It means that unless you can show that the manufacturer did not comply with the OSHA regulations then you cannot (at least in this particular benzene lawsuit) proceed with a "failure to warn claim"

Here's the post from the Product Liability Prof Blog:

A Minnesota DIstrict Court dismissed a wrongful death action brought by the family of a former industrial worker against the makers of benzene-containing products to which he was allegedly exposed in his workplace.  OSHA regulations that govern warning and labeling requirements for hazardous chemicals used in the workplace preempt any additional state law requirements, according to the court.  Thus, the only way the plaintiffs could show liability for failing to warn was to show that the manufacturers violated the OSHA regulation requiring warnings be given for products containing more than 0.1% benzene.  Because the plaintiffs produced no evidence that the defendants violated the regulation, the court ruled that the companies were entitled to summary judgment in their favor.  Vettrus v. Ashland, Inc., Minn. Dist. Ct., No. C9-04-817, Jan. 9, 2008).

Gene Wilder Talks about Non-Hodkins Lymphoma

Gene Wilder talks about Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma,  Stem Cell Transplants  and remission.

What is AML- Acute Myelogenous Leulemia

Acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) is a blood disease of your blood. AML is when you do not have enough red and white blood cells.  Another way to describe AML is that your blood grows Blasts which are a early type of white blood cell.  It grows these blasts so fast that they basically push out all of the other white  and red blood cells.  If you have AML Leukemia you will not have enough red blood cells and not enough white blood cells because they are outnumbered.

AML is often a result of exposure to some sort of environmental toxin, such as benzene or radiation

Other names that you might hear for AML are Acute myeloblastic leukemia, acute myelocytic leukemia and acute nonlymphocytic leukemia.


Cigarette Smoking and leukemia

Yes, Cigarette smoking is associated with Leukemia.  The following is an abstract from a paper from 1993.

Cigarette smoking may be a risk factor for leukemia. No detailed biological mechanism has been proposed, but a causal link is made plausible by evidence of systemic effects of cigarette smoke and the presence in cigarette smoke of chemicals that have been associated with leukemia risk.


CONCLUSIONS: Cigarette smoking is associated with increased risk for leukemia and may lead to leukemias of specific morphologic and chromosomal types. The association varies with age.

Read the whole Abstract here:

AML Symptoms

Just a quick post listing some of the common symptoms related to Acute Myelogenous Luekemia

  • Shortness of Breath
  • Fatigue (Feeling Sleepy or Tired)
  • Bruise easily
  • Cuts heal very slowly or you bleed easily
  • Repeated infections
  • Joint Pain
  • Mild fevers
Don't give yourself a diagnosis of AML based on this list.  Go see your doctor and discuss it with him or her.

When does the Statute of Limitations Begin to Run?

An appeal was recently filed in a case where a lower court ruled that the time limit on a person's benzene claim began running when the person was first exposed to benzene.  Wow.  Well this is one big problem with exposure lawsuits.  The question I have is how can person bring a lawsuit for an injury they don't know they have yet. One idea (which is not new) is to allow the time period to start running when the person first learned that the benzene exposure was linked to their aplastic anemia, MDS (Myleodysplastic Syndrome) or AML.

See this link for more on the story of this person who is appealing to the US Supreme Court over this lower court decision.

Efforts to curtail Benzene in Texas

Despite an initial backlash against what they perceived to be an overstep of mayoral authority, Baytown officials and state lawmakers seem to be falling in step, at least in principle, with Houston Mayor Bill White's efforts to curtail benzene emissions from east Harris County refineries.

The ball is now rolling on a regional task force overseen by the Greater Houston Partnership and composed of scientists, environmental advocates, industry representatives and appointees by several local mayors, including Baytown mayor Stephen DonCarlos. The task force, the actual members of which are still being decided, should begin sitting down to discuss strategies within the next few months.

At the heart of the task force's mandate, at least from White's perspective, will be the voluntary reductions on benzene emissions that first sparked the outcry from officials and led to the meeting of local mayors out of which the task force eventually sprouted. Benzene, a common gasoline component and byproduct known to cause cancer over long periods of exposure in a small percentage of humans, has been red-flagged by scientists as being the toxic chemical most likely to affect people in the greater Houston-Galveston area.

For the Rest of the story please see the Baytown Sun

Targeting stem cells suggests way to cure leukemia, mice study shows

Canadian scientists are investigating a novel way of treating a deadly form of leukemia: By targeting the stem cells that allow the cancer to return after chemotherapy has resulted in apparent remission.

Using an experimental drug, researchers at Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto were able to cure some mice transplanted with the human form of acute myeloid leukemia (AML). The discovery offers promise that the drug could have the same effect in humans with the disease.

Read more about this at the Source:  Yahoo News Canada

An Aplastic Anemia Cluster in Oregon.

Last February, doctors diagnosed Chuck and Jacqueline Roberts' young daughter, Victoria, with a rare and life-threatening bone marrow disease, aplastic anemia.

Since then, the Robertses say, they have heard of five other cases in Columbia County, where they live, or across the river in Washington's Cowlitz County.

To the couple, six cases in counties with 150,000 residents combined looks suspicious. But is it? Is it just bad luck? Or is something, perhaps a pollutant, causing illness in the area?

Oregon and Washington officials are tackling those questions as they try to figure out whether Victoria, 7, is part of a disease cluster. So far, they have no proof of a cluster. But workers from seven agencies in two states have spent weeks gathering initial information, including climate data from a Kalama, Wash., plant that legally emits tons of benzene, a chemical that can damage the blood of people exposed to large enough amounts. This week, investigators will share their data and discuss whether there is enough suspicion to push ahead.

You can read the entire article here...

Here is a description of Aplastic Anemia from the article.

In aplastic anemia, a person's bone marrow loses the ability to make blood cells that stop bleeding, battle infections and move oxygen through the body. In the United States, an estimated 200 to 1,800 new cases are found each year. Many things can cause the disease: genetic flaws, radiation, some drugs, chemicals such as benzene, even pregnancy. Most commonly, something spurs the body's immune system to attack the marrow, said Dr. Grover Bagby, an aplastic anemia expert at Oregon Health & Science University. But in most cases, no root cause is found.