Benzene (benzol, C6H6) is commonly used in industrial processes as a solvent, as a fuel, and in the manufacture of drugs and dyes. The recognition of benzene as an industrial hazard dates from the observation of Santesson1 in 1897. This author reported a series of fatal cases of purpura in women employed in a bicycle factory in Uppsala, Sweden, where benzene was used as a solvent for rubber. After his clinical observations, Santesson produced chronic poisoning in rabbits both by injecting benzene subcutaneously and by wrapping the animals in cloth soaked with benzene. He found hemorrhages in the pleura, lungs and pericardium, and in the mucosa of the stomach and intestine. In 1900 he2 succeeded in producing a marked degree of fatty degeneration of the organs of rabbits and concluded that benzene was the toxic agent.
At about this time in America Selling3 reported
GRAY I, GREENFIELD I, LEDERER M. BENZENE POISONING: REPORT OF CASE WITH STERNAL MARROW STUDIES, AUTOHEMAGGLUTINATION AND AUTOPSY. JAMA. 1940;114(14):1325–1330. doi:10.1001/jama.1940.02810140025007
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