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Risk assessment of an increased concentration limit of benzene in natural gas

Gezondheidsrisico bij verhoging benzeenlimiet in aardgas niet waarschijnlijk

Synopsis

Benzene is a volatile liquid that is carcinogenic. To prevent risks for human health the use of benzene is restricted. Within the current European substances regulation REACH the presence of benzene in natural gas is indicated as mass fraction (0.1 percent comparable with 1 g benzene in 1000 g natural gas). It is proposed to change this to the same indication as set for gases in other European legal frameworks. In those other frameworks maximum levels are indicated as volume fraction (0.1 percent comparable with 1 litre benzene in 1000 litres natural gas). According to the RIVM it is unlikely that this conversion causes health hazards in regular situations of human exposure to benzene via natural gas. This applies to the use of natural gas at home in the kitchen, for workers that carry out maintenance work at gas stations etcetera. In such situations the exposure to benzene remains below the safety limit. In some situations it is unknown if risks for human health may arise. According to the current information the exposure to benzene may be too high in case of small leaks of natural gas in homes that are not noticed or during industrial uses, such as maintenance work. However, this applies both to the current limit as to the limit based on the volume fraction. Further, there is a lot of uncertainty in the estimations of exposure levels and the likelihood that such exposure situations occur is very small. More information about the actual exposure levels is required in order to make a more realistic estimate.
 

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