Paradise, California Fire Survivors Now Face Risk of Benzene Exposure

benzene exposure

As if the residents living near California’s horrific Camp Fire haven’t already been through enough,  the State Water Resources Control Board in California is warning that area residents may be facing benzene exposure.

Testing done by the Paradise Irrigation District came back positive for benzene, and though some residential tests have come back negative, others registered levels of the chemical at 15 times the state limit for drinking water.

They have issued a water warning for several areas in Butte County that the Camp Fire impacted, including Paradise, Paradise Pines, Lime Saddle and Magalia. Residents are being encouraged to use bottled water for drinking, cooking and oral hygiene out of fear that melted pipelines may be releasing the chemical into the water supply.

Benzene exposure and other organic chemicals that may be entering the area’s water supply are known to pose significant, even life-threatening health risks. At this point, the water is being tested, and the results will not be known for several weeks, so authorities are strongly encouraging people to take all necessary precautions. Residents whose water smells of plastic are being requested to contact the water company immediately so that their water can be included in the testing.

Benzene Exposure Can Cause Long-Term Damage

Benzene exposure has long been known to be a risk factor for a number of serious illnesses, including blood disorders. Those who have been exposed to the chemical over a long period of time have experienced genetic damage to their stem cells and bone marrow cells that lead to Myelodysplastic syndromes.

These restrict and modify the way that the body produces blood cells, leading to anomalies in how white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets function. These genetic changes can lead to a specific form of leukemia known as AML, or Acute Myeloid Leukemia, as well as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Author: Terri Oppenheimer

Terri Oppenheimer

Terri Oppenheimer is an independent writer, editor, and proofreader. She graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in English. She specializes in providing content for websites and finds tremendous enjoyment in the things she learns while doing her research. Her specific areas of interest include health and fitness, medical research, and the law.