Dec 22, 2011

Benzene Levels in Denver Waterway Are 400 Times Drinking Water Standards

High levels of benzene contamination found in major water sources for northeastern Colorado

In Colorado, benzene-contaminated water in Sand Creek continues to flow into South Platte River, a major source of drinking and agricultural water for northeastern Colorado. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's national standard for benzene in drinking water is 5 ppb, and the concentrations found in Sand Creek range from 480 ppb to 2,000 ppb where the creek enters the river, reported the Denver Post.

Long-term exposure to benzene can cause cancer and a decrease in blood platelets, which can lead to anemia. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ingesting high levels of benzene can sometimes cause the following symptoms within minutes to several hours: vomiting, irritation of the stomach, dizziness, sleepiness, convulsions, rapid or irregular heartbeat, and death.

The source of the “black goo” in Sand Creek is thought to be Suncor Energy, which processes 93,000 barrels per day of gasoline, diesel fuel and paving-grade asphalt, according to the Denver Post. EMSL Analytical Inc. is offering tests for benzene in samples from the contaminated water.

“EMSL Analytical Inc. uses NIOSH method 1501 to test for benzene in air and water samples,” said Joseph Frasca, senior vice president at EMSL. “We only use approved methods in the industry, so clients can rely on quality results from our laboratory."