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Risk of cancer

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Carol and her family lives close to the petrochemical plant. She believes that the pollution it emits is a cause of cancer in the area.

According to the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) the majority of the NMVOCs (‘non-methane volatile organic compounds’) emitted from industrial processes in Scotland are generated in east central Scotland, with the largest contributions coming from the refining and chemical production sectors.

There is conflicting evidence about whether living close to petrochemical complexes increases the risk of cancer.

Research published in the ‘Occupational and Environmental Medicine’ journal showed no significant increase in risk of incidence of lymphohaematopoietic malignancy around industrial complexes, including oil refineries, across the UK.

However, research from the US in 2008, published in the ‘Toxicology and Industrial Health’ journal found that there was a signficant increase in cases of Hodgkin’s disease close to an oil refinery, due to the benzene content of petrochemicals.

There is a dearth of research in the UK, so there is no conclusive evidence in either direction about the health risks of living close to petrochemical complexes.