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  New Peer Reviewed Study Proves Chevron Refinery is Hazardous to Your Health
April 1, 2010

Toxics from the Chevron oil refinery were found in the indoor air of homes in Richmond, California, according to a peer-reviewed study in American Journal of Public Health. The results are being released as the EPA considers measures to reduce pollution from refineries nationwide, and as Chevron is appealing a court decision barring the expansion of one of the nation’s largest refineries in Richmond, California.

Researchers tested samples of indoor and outdoor air for over 150 chemicals in 40 homes in Richmond, California (low-income, predominantly minority neighborhoods bordering a Chevron oil refinery, marine shipping corridors and other polluters), and 10 homes in Bolinas, CA (a non-industrial comparison community). The air indoors, where Americans spend 90 percent of their time, was more polluted than the air outdoors in both communities, with 104 toxics detected inside Richmond homes and 69 in Bolinas.

Eighty compounds were detected outdoors in Richmond and 60 in Bolinas; Richmond concentrations were generally higher. Richmond's vanadium and nickel levels indicated effects of heavy oil combustion from oil refining and shipping; these levels were among the state's highest. In nearly half of Richmond homes, PM2.5 exceeded California's annual ambient air quality standard. Paired outdoor–indoor measurements were significantly correlated for industry- and traffic-related PM2.5, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, elemental carbon, metals, and sulfates (r = 0.54–0.92, P < .001).

Indoor air quality is an important indicator of the cumulative impact of outdoor emissions in fence-line communities. Policies based on outdoor monitoring alone add to environmental injustice concerns in communities that host polluters. Community-based participatory exposure research can contribute to science and stimulate and inform action on the part of community residents and policymakers.

Click here for the entire press release, and see http://ajph.aphapublications.org/cgi/content/abstract/99/S3/S600 to purchase the entire study paper.