Risk of leukaemia as a result of community exposure to gasoline vapours: A follow-up study

The temporal and spatial relationship were assessed of risk for total leukaemia and AML (acute myelogenous leukaemia) among community residents of an area in northeastern (NE) Pennsylvania (PA) affected by the Tranguch Gasoline Spill which occurred in the early 1990s. Standardised incidence ratios (SIR) were calculated for total leukaemia and AML among 625 residents affected by the gasoline spill in relation to both PA and local county cancer incidence rates. The risk of total leukaemia and AML among the gasoline exposed population was evaluated for the period prior to the spill, 1985-1989; during the time surrounding the spill, 1990-1994; and for a period subsequent to the spill, 1995-2001. The incidence of total leukaemia and AML was significantly elevated subsequent to the spill for the entire period 1990-2001 and was highest for the period 1995-2001, whether comparison was made to PA or local county leukaemia rates. Based on comparison to PA rates, the SIRs for total leukaemia and AML were 7.69 (95% CI ) 1.58-22.46) and 11.54 (95% CI ) 2.38-33.69) for the 1995-2001 period, respectively. Prior to the spill, 1985-1989, and during the period of the spill, 1990-1994, no cases of leukaemia were identified among the affected residents. These results suggest a possible association between chronic low level benzene exposure and increased risk of leukaemia among residents of the Tranguch Spill Site in NE PA. The authors concluded that the findings from this study provide additional support to the growing body of evidence implicating low level benzene exposure and cancer risk. The authors recommend that other communities contaminated with gasoline vapour through leaking underground storage vessels be monitored for elevated risk of leukaemia.

Authors: Talbott, Evelyn O.; Xu, Xiaohui; Youk, Ada O.; Rager, Judy R.; Stragand, Juley A.; Malek, Angela M. ;Environmental Research 2011, 111(4), 597-602 (Eng) ;