Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is a blood cancer that has been on the rise in the last few decades, likely due to the increase of industrial production throughout the U.S. Many refineries and plants release a chemical carcinogen called benzene that is linked to blood cancers such as non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Catherine Bulka, MPH, used data from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) U.S. Census Bureau to check patterns of non-Hodgkin lymphoma cases that occurred between 1999 and 2008 throughout the state of Georgia. She worked with Dr. Christopher Flowers his team in the Lymphoma Program at Emory University to analyze new cases of the blood cancer and the location of benzene-releasing facilities.
The team found shockingly higher numbers of incidences of non-Hodgkin lymphoma in the metro-Atlanta region, Augusta, and Savannah regions. The team also found that for every mile farther away from the benzene-releasing facility, the risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma decreased by .31 percent.
“We hope that our research will inform readers of the potential risks of living near facilities that release carcinogens into the air, groundwater, or soil,” Bulka said.
Petroleum refineries and manufacturing plants seem to be the worst culprits for releasing benzene into the air and water, which also absorbs into the surrounding soil. Workers on the job at such facilities are at high risk of being negatively affected by benzene exposure, which can be inhaled or absorbed through the skin and into the bloodstream.
Over time, this chemical can affect bone marrow and the blood forming cells, which in turn damages white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets. Benzene exposure has also been linked to leukemia as well as lymphoma.
More information can be found about exposure to benzene on Beasley Allen Law Firm’s Benzene Exposure website.