For those who can’t watch videos on their computers, here are the Cliff Notes.
- In the middle of the largest area of drilling and fracking in Germany, there is a cancer cluster.
- Small town, with cancer in one-third of homes – 27 homes with 10 cancer cases in 9 homes.
- They’ve been fracking since the nineties. (Sound familiar?)
- They pipe the flowback and produced water for disposal through pipelines. (Sound familiar?)
- Testing the soil around these pipelines found 4000 micrograms of benzene. Five micrograms is hazardous to health.
- Toxicologist says benzene is among the most “alarming chemicals we can imagine.”
- The German Big Gas Mafia does not see the connection. (Sound familiar?)
- There is a spiderweb of pipelines all over the place and the contamination found is widespread. (Sound familiar?)
- The pipe looks like this: (Look familiar?)
- A plastic and chemistry expert admits benzene will leak through. She says weeks–it can “someday” leak through within weeks.
- They have known about this since the 60s. (Sound familiar?)
- Benzene leaked through PE pipelines requiring a 4 year remediation and disposal of 2500 tons of soil.
- ExxonMobil claims it only became known in 2007. (Interesting admission considering they are still using the pipe.)
- A Google search reveals that manufacturers admit the pipe is unsuitable for materials containing benzene.
- Squirming by regulatory agency that allowed pipe and so forth. (Sound familiar?)
Outdoor air may contain low levels of benzene from automobile service stations, wood smoke, tobacco smoke, the transfer of gasoline, exhaust from motor vehicles, and industrial emissions. About 50% of the entire nationwide (United States) exposure to benzene results from smoking tobacco or from exposure to tobacco smoke.
Vapors from products that contain benzene, such as glues, paints, furniture wax, and detergents, can also be a source of exposure, although many of these have been modified or reformulated since the late 1970s to eliminate or reduce the benzene content. Air around hazardous waste sites or gas stations may contain higher levels of benzene. Because petroleum hydrocarbon products are complex mixtures of chemicals, risk assessments for these products, in general, focus on specific toxic constituents. The petroleum constituents of primary interest to human health have been the aromatic hydrocarbons (i.e., benzene, ethylbenzene, toluene, and xylenes). OSHA requires that a mixture "shall be assumed to present a carcinogenic hazard if it contains a component in concentrations of 0.1% or greater, which is considered to be a carcinogen.
The short-term breathing of high levels of benzene can result in death; low levels can cause drowsiness, dizziness, rapid heart rate, headaches, tremors, confusion, and unconsciousness. Eating or drinking foods containing high levels of benzene can cause vomiting, irritation of the stomach, dizziness, sleepiness, convulsions, and death.
The major effects of benzene are manifested via chronic (long-term) exposure through the blood. Benzene damages the bone marrow and can cause a decrease in red blood cells, leading to anemia. It can also cause excessive bleeding and depress the immune system, increasing the chance of infection. Benzene causes leukemia and is associated with other blood cancers and pre-cancers of the blood.
Human exposure to benzene is a global health problem. Benzene targets liver, kidney, lung, heart and the brain and can cause DNA strand breaks, chromosomal damage, etc. Benzene causes cancer in both animals and humans. Benzene was first reported to induce cancer in humans in the 1920s. The chemical industry claims it was not until 1979 that the cancer-inducing properties were determined "conclusively" in humans, despite many references to this fact in the medical literature. Industry exploited this "discrepancy" and tried to discredit animal studies that showed that benzene causes cancer, saying that they are not relevant to humans. Benzene has been shown to cause cancer in both sexes of multiple species of laboratory animals exposed via various routes.
Some women having breathed high levels of benzene for many months had irregular menstrual periods and a decrease in the size of their ovaries. Benzene exposure has been linked directly to the neural birth defects spina bifida and anencephaly. Men exposed to high levels of benzene are more likely to have an abnormal amount of chromosomes in their sperm, which impacts fertility and fetal development.
Animal studies have shown low birth weights, delayed bone formation, and bone marrow damage when pregnant animals breathed benzene.
Benzene has been connected to a rare form of kidney cancer in two separate studies, one involving tank truck drivers, and the other involving seamen on tanker vessels, both carrying benzene-laden chemicals.