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Glossary - Benzene Benzene - molecular formula C6H6

An organic chemical compound with the molecular formula C6H6 (pictured at right).  Benzene is a colourless and highly flammable liquid with a sweet smell and a relatively high melting point.  Because it is a known carcinogen, its use as an additive in gasoline is now limited.

The US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) classifies benzene as a human carcinogen.  Long-term exposure to excessive levels of benzene in the air causes leukaemia, a potentially fatal cancer of the blood-forming organs, in susceptible individuals.  In particular, Acute myeloid leukaemia or acute non-lymphocytic leukaemia (AML & ANLL) is not disputed to be caused by benzene.


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