Benzene is a clear, colorless and highly flammable aromatic liquid that evaporates quickly into the air, and can dissolve in water. It is formed from both natural processes and human activities; natural sources of benzene include volcanoes and forest fires.
Benzene is present in crude oil, gasoline and cigarette smoke. It is industrially used as a solvent in paints and other chemicals and products such as dyes, detergents, nylon, plastics, drugs and pesticides. Benzene is widely used in the United States; it ranks in the top twenty chemicals for production volume and makes up about one percent of every gallon of gasoline.