Petroleum Products & BTEX
Dangers of Contaminated Groundwater
The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) explains that BTEX is the abbreviation for four compounds that are often contained in petroleum products: benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene. BTEX can be found in a variety of petroleum products including diesel fuel, home heating oil and gasoline. The problem is that BTEX can enter groundwater and originate from a number of sources including leaks from underground storage tanks, from overfills of storage tanks, spills and landfills. According to the MDE, the main source of BTEX contamination is leaks from underground storage tanks.
When BTEX is released it can dissolve into water which enables it to move in the groundwater. A person can be exposed to BTEX by ingestion (consuming water contaminated with BTEX), by inhaling BTEX present in the air, or by absorption through the skin. A person can inhale BTEX while pumping gasoline or they can absorb BTEX by showering in contaminated water.
Unfortunately, exposures to high levels of BTEX is associated with central nervous system depression, skin and sensory irritation, and it can cause negative effects on the respiratory system. A person is more inclined to be exposed to these levels through occupational exposure, and prolonged exposure to these compounds can affect the kidney, liver and blood systems. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA), there is a sufficient amount of evidence to support the belief that benzene is a human carcinogen. Furthermore, workers who have been exposed to high concentrations of benzene in the occupational setting were found to have a greater occurrence of leukemia.
In 2006 a court battle ensued after more than 25,000 gallons of petroleum had been contaminated with Methyl teriary-butyl ether (MTBE), which is a group of chemicals that are commonly known as fuel oxygenates which are added to fuel to increase its oxygen content. MTBE can be released into the ground and surface water by leaking underground storage tanks and pipelines, spills etc. much like BTEX. The contamination put local residents in danger and caused them to use bottled water for all of their drinking, bathing and washing needs.
If you have experience adverse health effects from BTEX exposure through contaminated ground water, you are urged to contact a Maryland groundwater & soil contamination attorney from Miller Stern Lawyers today to learn more about filing a personal injury claim for your injuries.
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