These are the fumes you see and smell when pumping gas or opening a can of paint. Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are made from crude oil and include the BTEX group -- Benzene, Toluene, Ethylbenzene and Xylenes.
- Benzene - Anemia; decrease in blood platelets; increased risk of cancer
- Ethylbenzene - Liver or kidney problems
- Toluene - Nervous system, kidney, or liver problems
- Xylenes - Nervous system damage
- Contamination can occur in amounts as low as 5 parts per billion (5 red balls in a sea of 5,000,000,000)
How Did It Get There?
- Contamination of soil and groundwater at petroleum and natural gas production areas, gas stations and areas with underground and above-ground storage tanks
- Produced in large scale for industrial use as solvents and for manufacturing materials such as plastics and pesticides
What's From Gas Drilling?
- Used in oil-based drilling muds
- Potentially in fracking solution
- Component of diesel fuel (present in large quantities at drill sites)
- Often accompanies heavy industrial activity