- A highly toxic hydrocarbon known to cause anemia and leukemia. The anemia associated with benzene exposure is termed aplastic anemia. Benzene is used as a solvent. It comes from light coal tar oil and chemically is C6H6. The use of glues and other products containing benzene has stopped in most developed countries because of its danger and the allowable worker exposures to the chemical have been drastically reduced. In some countries such as China, however, the use of benzene-containing glues reportedly persists in thousands of small factories.
* * *The basic structure in most aromatic compounds; a highly toxic hydrocarbon from light coal tar oil; used as a solvent. SYN: benzol, coal tar naphtha. [benzoin, + -ene]
* * *ben·zene 'ben-.zēn, ben-' n a colorless volatile flammable toxic liquid aromatic hydrocarbon C6H6 used in organic synthesis, as a solvent, and as a motor fuel called also benzolben·ze·noid 'ben-zə-.nȯid adj
* * *ben·zene (benґzēn) a colorless volatile liquid hydrocarbon, C6H6, obtained as a byproduct in the destructive distillation of coal. It is harmful by transdermal absorption and acutely toxic by ingestion or inhalation, causing mucous membrane irritation, neurological symptoms, and death due to respiratory failure; chronic exposure may result in bone marrow depression and aplasia and leukemia. Benzene is a known carcinogen. See illustration under ring. Called also benzol.
Medical dictionary. 2011.