The Air Alliance Houston has released a report showing that Galena Park, which is reputed to have pockets of benzene throughout the area, has levels of benzene that are higher than acceptable based on standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Air Alliance Houston and other environmental groups successfully sued the EPA in 2012 to push federal regulators toward installing monitoring systems to assess the levels of benzene emitted from the oil refineries close by.
Adrian Shelley, the executive director of Air Alliance Houston, decided to try the equipment for herself.
“We wanted to get our hands on the equipment and try it out since nobody really knew how to use it, so we got together with the Environmental Integrity Project and the Environmental Defense Fund and a local canister company and everybody put in a little money so we could do a test run,” Shelley says. “We chose Galena Park because it’s an area with levels of benzene, one we’d expect to see benzene in.”
Benzene is a key component of gasoline and other products made by the petrochemical industry. Formerly, it was used as a solvent to remove grease buildup from tools and hands. It has been linked to blood diseases such as leukemia and anemia. Workers in the petrochemical industry are at higher risk being at closer proximity to the source of the emissions.
The EPA’s acceptable level of benzene is .36 micrograms of benzene per cubic meter of air. National Air Toxic Assessment sets its “safe” level of benzene at .81 micrograms of benzene per cubic meter of air. Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) sets its “safe” level at 4.5 micrograms per cubic meter of air.
The samples taken so far at Galena Park exceeded all of those levels.
For more information about benzene and its health effects, visit www.benzene-exposure.com.
Source: Houston Press