What are aromatics, what's their chemical composition and how are they manufactured?

In a nutshell...

Aromatics are essential starting material for the manufacture of a very wide range of consumer products.

One of the main aromatics, benzene, has often been viewed as a hazardous product, and it is true that long-term exposure to high levels of benzene vapour can cause serious health risks.

However, present working conditions do not constitute any significant risk for production plant workers. And for consumers, where exposure is only to trace amounts of benzene, then these risks are even smaller. All benzene made by industry is used to produce other chemicals which are then used to make consumers goods. These must in turn meet strict international standards to protect the consumer from any risk.

The level of benzene emissions from factories represents less than 6% of all benzene emissions. These have been reduced by 50% since 1995, and the industry remains committed to reducing them even further.

The general public is only exposed to extremely minute amounts of benzene which derive from a variety of sources, such as city traffic, open fires, smoking (both active and passive), car refuelling and travelling in a vehicle. Therefore, the overall exposure of an individual to benzene is unique, since it is dependent on his/her life-style and daily activities.

Men and women working in the aromatics industry take their responsibilities seriously; they, and their families, are consumers themselves, and they strive for a continuous improvement of their health, safety and environment-related performance. This is why they are demanding with themselves and seek to identify and develop new approaches that will allow the industry to apply higher standards than are required by regulatory authorities.

The aromatics industry, and likewise the whole chemical industry, is an innovative and a strictly regulated sector, constantly developing new products that contribute to our quality of life while at the same time respecting and protecting the public's needs and interests.