Each year statistics regarding the amount of benzene emissions polluting the air, and people’s lungs, are reported by government officials. However, a non-profit watchdog group believes these reported statistics are inaccurate and more benzene is being emitted from refineries and other sources than is being revealed. According to federal officials, benzene emissions increased an estimated nine percent at refineries across the United States between 2007 and 2008.
The non-profit group, Environmental Integrity Project (EIP), thinks refineries across the country may be undereporting their emissions of benzene. In some cases, they believe numbers aren’t being given at all, and in others, they believe refineries are giving inconsistent numbers to regulators. Reports from the EIP state that the reports from 2007-2008 came about even though there was a decline in the demand for products containing petroleum in 2009. This forced some refineries to reduce their production. Due to misleading and confusing reports such as this, the EIP believes reports are being given without any true backing.
The EIP has publicly stated that, "continued uncertainty over the quality and accuracy of reporting makes it difficult to know how much real progress has been made in the effort to decrease benzene emissions. Some companies that report relatively high emissions may actually be doing a more careful job measuring their releases than others. However, there is also evidence that benzene emissions on the whole are being undereported due to outdated and inaccurate emission factors and conflicting reports submitted by industry."
The Effects of Benzene Exposure
Benzene is a chemical compound that has been found to be highly toxic and can cause various cancers and other health ailments to those exposed over time. It has also been found to cause harm to the environment. Benzene was originally used as an industrial solvent, especially to help degrease metals. However, through the years it’s been used to produce plastics, in the production of gasoline, as an ingredient in cigarettes, and even exists in some soft drinks.
If you are exposed to benzene, you are at risk of developing life-threatening illnesses, such as anemia caused by benzene and acute myleoid leukemia. There has not been a cure found for many of the health conditions caused by this carcinogen, which is why it’s so important to be educated on its effects and aware of how much benzene is being emitted.