Study finds carcinogens downwind of Edmonton petrochemical plants
EDMONTON — A newly published study says air downwind from a cluster of petrochemical plants northeast of Edmonton contains pollutants at levels equal to some of the world’s largest cities.
Other pollutants, including some known to cause cancer, also measured well above normal. And cancer rates linked to those chemicals were found to be higher in communities closest to the so-called Industrial Heartland.
Although scientists don’t definitively link the two, one of the report’s co-authors said the findings raise concern about the possible long-term effects of exposure to petrochemical emissions.
“We’re suggesting a prudent approach — reduce the carcinogens now as a preventative measure,” said Isobel Simpson, a chemist at the University of California Irvine and co-author of the report published online by Atmospheric Environment.
An Alberta government spokeswoman said the report doesn’t necessarily reflect real human exposure to the pollutants.
The area, 30 kilometres northeast of Edmonton and adjacent to the town of Fort Saskatchewan, now holds Canada’s largest concentration of petrochemical processors. More than 40 companies are spread out over nearly 600 square kilometres.