Gas Station Benzene Emissions 10 Times as Bad as Previously Thought

Promo image. Just don't breathe!

Another very good reason to get fossil fuel powered cars out of our cities.

Recently, in a post about the electric filling stations of the future. I noted that "gasoline filling stations are rarely beautiful. They are often polluted with and smelly from gas and oil and they are not usually places where you want to hang around."

In fact, it is even worse than that. A recent study led by Markus Hilpert and published in Science of the Total Environment found that between three and seven gallons of gas evaporate from underground tanks daily and are released through vents. Hilpert told Newsweek: “It’s like if you fill seven 1-gallon jars of gasoline and then every day you pour the 7 gallons onto the ground.”

how gas gets out

© Vent pipe emissions from storage tanks at gas stations: Implications for setback distances

These levels are ten times higher than previously thought, and exceed regulations for benzene at a distance as great as 150 feet from the station, with some exposure as much as 300 feet away, the distance that some states mandate as the minimum setback for schools, playgrounds and parks. Hilpert explains in Columbia University News that regulations should be changed.

We found evidence that much more benzene is released by gas stations than previously thought. In addition, even during a relatively short study period, we saw a number of instances in which people could be exposed to the chemical at locations beyond the setback distance of 300 feet. Officials should reconsider their regulations based on these data with particular attention to the possibility of short spikes in emissions resulting from regular operations or improper procedures related to fuel deliveries and the use of pollution prevention technology.

Benzene is a known carcinogen and, according to Wikipedia, is also a notorious cause of bone marrow failure. Substantial quantities of epidemiologic, clinical, and laboratory data link benzene to aplastic anemia, acute leukemia, bone marrow abnormalities, and cardiovascular disease.

Another very good reason to get fossil fuel powered cars out of our cities as soon as possible.