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.