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Living near refineries may increase blood cancer risk: study

July 31, 2013

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Atlanta – People living near refineries and manufacturing plants that release the chemical benzene may be more likely to develop blood cancer, according to a new study from Emory University.

Researchers examined geographic patterns of new non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma cases in Georgia from 1999 to 2008 using data from the Environmental Protection Agency and the Census Bureau. They found higher-than-expected rates of blood cancers in parts of the metro-Atlantic region among people living near facilities that release benzene, which has been classified as a carcinogen.

The risk decreased with distance from the benzene release site – for every mile away, the cancer risk fell 0.31 percent, the abstract states.

While acknowledging the need for more studies to validate the results, researchers said the findings highlight the potential risks of living near facilities that release carcinogens into the environment.

The study was published online July 29 in the journal CANCER.