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Is it Dangerous to Live Near an Oil Refinery?

Posted on November 30, 2021 in

Depending on where you live in this country, it is not uncommon to have an oil refinery in your proximity. However, are there any dangers associated with living near an oil refinery?

Many individuals are not aware of the hazards that lurk outside their doors. These are hazards that may have crept away from the refinery. Just about any person that lives near an oil refinery has the potential to suffer from ill effects caused by issues generated by the refinery. If you or a loved one has been injured due to living near an oil refinery, contact the Texas oil refinery explosion lawyers at The Doan Law Firm for a free consultation.

Here, we want to discuss the dangers of living near an oil refinery.

Living Near an Oil Refinery Poses Risks

Nearly everyone who lives near an oil refinery will tell you that they notice potentially harmful effects, including symptoms of scratchy throats, watery eyes, and intense smells that force people to stay indoors. Perhaps even scarier is the fact that many major oil refineries are located very close to schools and parks where children play on a daily basis.

But are oil refineries actually harmful to people’s health?

Sulfur dioxide is a common by-product of oil refineries. This chemical can negatively affect the health of young children and unborn babies, which we will delve into more in a moment. Anytime oil or coal is burned, sulfur dioxide is released into the atmosphere. This is a colorless gas that has a strong odor. Sulfur dioxide most commonly enters the human body through breathing in contaminated air, and any person living near an oil refinery is susceptible to this type of exposure.

Benzene is another harmful carcinogen used in oil refineries and derived from natural gas, coal, and crude oil. Benzene is used in refineries as a solvent to make other chemicals.

Benzene is released into the atmosphere when oil or coal is burned and made into new chemicals inside the oil refineries. This chemical can enter the human body through the lungs, across the skin, or through the gastrointestinal tract. When a person is exposed to high levels of benzene, around half of the benzene breathed in will pass through the lining of the lungs and into the bloodstream. Benzene can be stored in bone marrow and fat and can cause problems in the bone and with tissues that form blood cells. Long-term exposure to benzene has been known to cause cancer in various areas of the body.

Another harmful chemical associated with oil refineries is lead. Lead is used in refineries alongside fossil fuels when making new chemicals. This is also released as a by-product at oil refineries and can travel for miles before settling onto the ground. Lead is dangerous to children and adults at any level of exposure and can have significant lifelong effects.

Premature Births for Women Living Near Oil Refineries

Researchers from the University of Southern California “have found that women living near natural gas and oil wells that use flaring to burn off the excess gas face a 50% greater risk of premature birth than women with no exposure.”

Jill Johnston, an environmental health scientist with USC, says that their study finds that living near flaring is harmful to pregnant women and babies. Flaring, which can occur for weeks at a time, releases harmful chemicals such as benzene, particle pollution, nitrogen oxides, black carbon, heavy metals, and carbon monoxide into the atmosphere that have been linked to higher preterm births and reduced birth weight.