Evaluation of the Results of Whole Blood Volatile Solvents Testing, Wilma Subra, January 18, 2011:
Whole blood samples were collected from 12 individuals between the ages of 10 and 66 on September 13 and 27, 2010, November 1, 22 and 29, 2010 and December 6, 2010. The individuals consisted of 10 and 11 year old males, four adult males and six adult females. The individuals were male and female cleanup workers on Orange Beach, Alabama, male and female crabbers from the Biloxi, Mississippi area and individuals living on Perdido Key, Alabama. The blood samples were analyzed for Volatile Solvents by Method 0762, by Metametrix Clinical Laboratory in Duluth, Georgia.
Four whole blood samples, from 46 year old male and female, 51 year old female and 10 year old male, contained 3.1 to 9.3 ppb Benzene. The Benzene values were 11.9 to 35.8 times higher than the NHANES 95th Percentile value of 0.26 ppb. The 46 year old male and female and 10 year old male were from one family of crabbers from the Biloxi, Mississippi area. The 51 year old female was also a crabber from the Biloxi, Mississippi area.
See the report here.
Why is it shocking that Benzene levels were found up to 35.8 times higher than the 95th percentile?
- [T]he founder of Metametrix... indicated that the Benzene would not show up for very long once you were exposed - Jerry Cope writing for the Huffington Post
- When you are exposed to high levels of benzene in air, about half of the benzene you breathe in leaves your body when you breathe out. - Cedar Grove Environmental lab
Health Concerns - Benzene, Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation:
[I]nhalation of elevated levels of benzene for long periods of time may damage the tissues that form blood cells, especially the bone marrow.
Anemia, excessive bleeding and leukemia (cancer of the blood forming organs) may result.
Blood processes may return to normal if exposure has been limited and the person returns to breathing fresh air (ATSDR, 1996a).
Prolonged exposure to elevated levels of benzene may also weaken the immune system thus decreasing the body's ability to fight infection and perhaps ward off cancer.
Exposure to benzene has also been associated with damage to the body's genetic material (chromosomes).