01 Nov 2006

French service station study of ambient benzene levels (2005)

In 2005 a study programme was initiated by a group of French operators of service stations, including oil companies (represented by UFIP), supermarkets and independent retailers, to study levels of benzene in theair around service stations. The principal motivation for conducting this study was an environmental health concern resulting from an earlier French study, published in the scientific literature in 2004, linking residence next to a service station during the period 1990–98 to increased childhood cancer risk.

Prolonged high exposures to benzene in industrial work environments are a recognised cause of a particular type of leukaemia in adults, but no such link had previously been acknowledged between the much lower levels of benzene in ambient air and childhood leukaemia. The regulatory and technological developments of recent years have resulted in a general decrease of benzene levels in ambient air. Data on typical benzene levels in air in the 1990s are available for EU countries (collated in CONCAWE report 2/99) and can be compared with measured 2005 levels.

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