Cancer cases linked to refinery

The total number of leukemia cases has more than doubled during the past decade in two towns in southwestern Sweden, an area downwind from the Preem oil refinery in Lysekil, according to a study done by Sahlgrenska University hospital in Gothenburg.

A total of 19 people have developed leukemia or blood cancer in the area. Earlier figures showed an average of 8.5 cases.

The investigation by the work and environmental medicine department at the hospital focuses on the years 1975 to 2004. The increase has come during the past 10 years in the Lyse and Brastad areas. Other towns showed normal rates of cancer.

The percentages in the two areas are not necessarily worse than in a big city when compared to a suburban setting. Researchers simply want to continue use the evidence gathered to continue mapping the area in hopes of better determining possible patterns.

As with other refineries in the petro-chemical industry, Preem releases cancer-causing agents into the air. One of the most widely known is the carcinogenic benzene, which can over time lead to leukemia.