Andrzej Starek

Benzene is a volatile organic compound and a ubiquitous environmental pollutant. Human exposure to low levels of benzene has been associated with hematological alterations in peripheral blood, depression of immunological system, genotoxic and epigenetic changes, and maybe with malignances in hematopoietic system. At the benzene concentration of below 3 mg/m3 a reduction in the number of erythrocytes (anemia) and leukocytes (leukopenia) were observed.

Benzene has been shown to have adverse immunological effects expessed in humoral and cellular immunological suppression. A LOAEL for immunological effects was assessed at 1.85±0,81 mg/m3.

There is evidence that benzene induces micronucleus formation, chromosomal aberrations, aneuploidy, sister chromatid exchange, and DNA strand breaks in humans. A LOAEL of 1.3 mg/m3 for chromosomal aberration and aneuploidy was derived for Asian workers. Environmental exposure to benzene can produce epigenetic changes in form of abnormal DNA methylation, post-translational histone modification and miRNA patterns expression. Benzene may cause some lymphoid malignancies in humans.

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