Green Right Now Reports

A study published this week shows that men living in the industrial tar sands region of Alberta Canada appear to be at higher risk of leukemia and Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Researchers looked at ten years of health records for men who lived in the counties surrounding heavily mined the oil and tar sands areas in central Alberta, and found that those who lived closest to the industrial operations were more likely to contract cancers of the blood than their counterparts living farther away from the heavily strip mined area.

Cancer rates rise in Tar Sands region

Cancer rates were higher for those living closest to the tar sands emissions (the green bar) and rose over time.

VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) that have been linked to various cancers were found at levels 6,000 times higher than normal in the region downwind of the tars sands zone. Air pollutants 1,3-butadiene and benzene, also were found at high levels. Benzene leels were found that were 322 times greater in the downwind region studied compared with the areas where cancer incidence was lower, according to a report in Think Progress.

The study’s scientist-authors, from the University of California Irvine and the University of Michigan, said their findings showing a correlation between air pollution and a rise in cancers demonstrates the need to reduce the toxic emissions.

“We’re seeing elevated levels of carcinogens and other gases in the same area where we’re seeing excess cancers known to be caused by these chemicals,” lead author Isobel Simpson told Think Progress. “Our main point is that it would be good to proactively lower these emissions of known carcinogens. You can study it and study it, but at some point you just have to say, ‘Let’s reduce it.’ ”

A report on the study in Treehugger noted that Port Arthur, Texas, home to many oil refineries and a similar sort of pollution already suffers from cancer rates that are 15 percent higher than normal.

See the video above for a look at oil refinery pollution in that Texas port city, the terminus for the Keystone XL pipeline which will carry millions of gallons tar sands oil daily from Alberta to Texas for delivery to the world market.