Sydney fumes exceed limit

Issue 

Sydney fumes exceed limit

SYDNEY — A study released by the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) has revealed that the amount of benzene (a carcinogen in petrol) over George Street in the central business district sometimes exceeds the recommended safe standard by 500%.

A British government recommendation on the safe maximum concentration of benzene is 5 parts per billion (ppb). Yet the average benzene level found in a section of George Street near the Queen Victoria Building during summer was 4 ppb with peaks of 10 ppb and in winter 8 ppb with peaks as high as 25 ppb.

A letter by two of the researchers to the Sydney City Council's health manager warned: "It is our view that the levels of aromatic hydrocarbons present in Sydney urban air mass are now such as to warrant very real concern". Their report recommended that 1 ppb should be set as the safe maximum of benzene concentration.

Heavy traffic in the CBD is the main cause of potentially lethal fumes, yet the council's response to the problem is to recommend only that open windows in the lower level of buildings be sealed and that designs for new residential blocks include air conditioning for the lower floors.

If you like our work, become a supporter

Green Left is a vital social-change project and aims to make all content available online, without paywalls. With no corporate sponsors or advertising, we rely on support and donations from readers like you.

For just $5 per month get the Green Left digital edition in your inbox each week. For $10 per month get the above and the print edition delivered to your door. You can also add a donation to your support by choosing the solidarity option of $20 per month.

Freecall now on 1800 634 206 or follow the support link below to make a secure supporter payment or donation online.