Benzene in Carbonated Drinks or Soft Drinks- WorldOfChemicals

Benzene in carbonated drinks

Benzene in Soft Drinks

Michael Faraday discovered benzene in 1825. Benzene formula was proposed by Friedrich August Kekule. Benzene formula is C6H6 with the molar mass of 78.11 g/mol. Benzene structural formula includes aromatic, cyclic, six carbon, six hydrogen organic compound. Benzene is used as solvent in various industries.Benzene is parent organic aromatic compound. Derivatives of benzene compound include cumene, ethylbenzene, styrene, cyclohexane, and aniline.

A carbonated drink tastes good on a hot day but did you know people are falling ill after having carbonated drinks or soft drinks.

One of those reasons for the sickness is a chemical called Benzene. Benzene is a deadly carcinogen chemical that causes cancer.


When you drink a soft drink?

Within 20 minutes of drinking a soft drink


Within 20 minutes of drinking a soft drink blood sugar spikes and your liver responds to the resulting insulin burst by turning massive amounts of sugar into fat. The continuing insulin burst, over time, eventually creates insulin resistance and finally diabetes can be the result.


Within 40 minutes of drinking a soft drink


Caffeine absorption is complete; your pupils dilate, your blood pressure rises, your blood vessels dilate and your liver dumps more sugar into your bloodstream.


Around 45 minutes of drinking a soft drink


Increase serotonin production, which stimulates the pleasure centres of your brain – a physically identical response to that of heroin, but not as strong. It can cause anxiety and depression.


After 60 minutes of drinking a soft drink


Sugar crash will start in the body. A sugar crash leads to signs of lethargy and weakness; hunger may also become noticeable, as well as sadness.

The recommended limit for benzene in drinking water is 5 parts per billion (ppb), researchers have found benzene levels as high as 79 ppb in some soft drinks.


Benzene in every day life can be used in the following sectors

  • Clothing
  • Packaging
  • Paints
  • Adhesives
  • Unbreakable windows
  • Plywood
  • Computer casings
  • Compact discs
  • Dyes
  • Agrochemicals
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Beverages
  • Cosmetics
  • Personal care products
  • Solvents
  • Degreasers
  • Mineral spirits
  • Plastics
  • Rubber products
  • Resins
  • Glues
  • Dyes
  • Detergents
  • Pesticides


Benzene has also long been recognized as an effective industrial solvent and degreaser, a use that remained quite popular for many decades. And with the rise of the automobile, benzene became a popular gasoline additive to increase octane ratings and reduce engine knocking. Benzene is still a component of gasoline.


In 1928, medical experts recognized a connection between benzene exposure and leukemia.

In 1948, American Petroleum Institute (API) showed that benzene can cause leukemia.

In 1990, a study reported having found benzene in bottles of Perrier for sale in the United States.

In 1993, research showed how benzene can form from benzoic acid in the presence of vitamin C

In 2006, the Korea Food & Drug Administration (KFDA) detected benzene in 27 out of 30 (90%) vitamin-enriched drinks.

In 2008, Coca-Cola announced that it would be phasing out sodium benzoate from many of its drinks


Most of the people are becoming victims of exposure to small amounts to hazardous levels of benzene including in beverages.


Benzene in carbonated drinks

Benzene has been detected sporadically at low levels in some soft drinks. It is thought that this occurs as a result of an interaction between the preservative sodium benzoate and ascorbic acid (vitamin C). Sodium benzoate is added as a preservative to prevent mould growing in the drinks and vitamin C may be used as an antioxidant or may be naturally present.


People who have inhaled very high levels of benzene in the workplace have been found to have an increased risk of cancer. Benzene is present in the atmosphere from exhaust emissions. On average, people breathe in 220 μg of benzene every day. For smokers cigarette smoking is the main source of exposure at 7900 μg per day.


The World Health Organization (WHO) has set a guideline level for benzene in water of 10 μg/kg.

Benzene levels are regulated in drinking water nationally and internationally, and in bottled water in the United States, but only informally in soft drinks.

The majority of the drinks contained benzoates and ascorbic acid, which are thought to react to form benzene. A limited number of mango juices and cranberry drinks were chosen as these fruits have been found to naturally contain benzene. In addition, a small number of drinks containing ascorbic acid and alternative preservatives such as sorbates or sulfur dioxide were chosen to help establish whether benzene was occurring from sources other than sodium benzoate.


Other factors that affect the formation of benzene are heat and light.

Other factors that affect the formation of benzene are heat and light. Storing soft drinks in warm conditions can speeds up the formation of benzene.

Soft drink                                            Benzene amount

Diet coke                                             <1 ppb

Sprite                                                  <1 ppb

ROCKSTAR Energy Drink                    <1 ppb


Following methods are used to detect benzene levels in carbonated drinks


RSSL Method

This method utilizes SPME (solid phase microextraction) and GC-MS (gas chromatography-mass spectrometry).


CSL Method

This method utilizes headspace and GC-MS (gas chromatography-mass spectrometry)


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