Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Benzene part 1

Why is benzene is some soft drinks?  How is this ok with people?

Benzene is carcinogenic and found in some foods. It can occur as a result of benzoate and ascorbic acid chemically combining in some soft drinks. The soft drink industry was made aware when tests came back positive for benzene and since then, have been taking steps to address the problem. In 2005, additional tests revealed benzene in soft drinks, but the FDA decided that the amount was too small to be of concern, but will continue to take random samples to monitor the situation.
Benzene is a colorless, flammable liquid with a sweet odor. It evaporates quickly when exposed to air. Benzene is formed from natural processes, such as volcanoes and forest fires, but most exposure to benzene results from human activities.
Benzene is among the 20 most widely used chemicals in the United States. It is used mainly as a solvent (a substance that can dissolve or extract other substances) and as a starting material in making other chemicals. In the past it was also commonly used as a gasoline additive, but this use has been greatly reduced in recent decades.
Benzene is also a natural part of crude oil, gasoline, and cigarette smoke.
People who breathe in high levels of benzene may develop the following signs and symptoms within minutes to several hours:
    Rapid or irregular heartbeat
    Death (at very high levels)
Eating foods or drinking beverages containing high levels of benzene can cause the following symptoms within minutes to several hours:
    Irritation of the stomach
    Rapid or irregular heartbeat
    Death (at very high levels)
If a person vomits because of swallowing foods or beverages containing benzene, the vomit could be sucked into the lungs and cause breathing problems and coughing.
Direct exposure of the eyes, skin, or lungs to benzene can cause tissue injury and irritation.
Showing these signs and symptoms does not necessarily mean that a person has been exposed to benzene.


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