According to the Sacramento Bee: the water in the town of Paradise in Butte County, California is contaminated with a deadly carcinogenic cocktail (including Benzene) after the Camp Fire ravaged the county recently. The contamination could cost upwards of $300 million to clear.
How Does Benzene Effect Humans?
While Benzene is not the only carcinogen found in Butte County water, it is probably the most volatile and dangerous. Benzene is used as a building block for several different synthetic and naturally occuring substances, but when ingested by humans, it can cause the following types of issues for short term exposures:
- Skin irritation
- Eye irritation
For long-term exposures, Benzene poisoning is even more detremental. Long-term exposure health issues include:
- Other cancers
Any way you slice it, Benzene contaminated water is a huge issue. Especially in California, where water is already an extra precious resource.
Benzene Contamination is Extremely Difficult to Clear
In addition to the dangers Benzene poses to humans, it is also exceptionally difficult to remove from infrastructure. It’s both in the water supply and the chemical also binds to the pores in pipe materials quite readily. One Butte County engineer has been quoted as saying:
“You have to be a detective to figure out what is going on. They have contaminated water moving around. They have very limited data.” – Environmental Engineer Andrew Whelton of Purdue University.