DefinitionMean of modeled annual average benzene concentration for census tracts in a county, using 2014 NATA data
NumeratorModeled mean benzene concentration in micrograms per cubic meter
Why Is This Important?People are exposed to benzene from tobacco smoking, automobile service stations, exhaust from motor vehicles, and industrial emissions. People living in cities or industrial areas are exposed to higher levels of benzene in air than those living in rural areas.
Breathing high levels of benzene can cause drowsiness, dizziness, rapid heart rate, headaches, tremors, confusion, and unconsciousness. Long-term exposure causes harmful effects on the bone marrow, can lead to anemia, and can affect the immune system. Benzene is a known human carcinogen. Long-term exposure to high levels of benzene in the air can cause leukemia.
How Are We Doing?All New Jersey counties exceed the health benchmark of 0.13 micrograms of benzene per cubic meter of air. The highest ambient air concentrations can be found in the northeast counties of Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Passaic, and Union.
What Is Being Done?The benzene content of gasoline is regulated, and the use of benzene in consumer products is being phased out. Benzene in drinking water is routinely monitored in all community water systems.
The USEPA's Mobile Source Air Toxics 2 rule sets new requirements related to benzene: more stringent hydrocarbon emissions from passenger vehicles; controls on portable fuel containers; and restrictions on benzene content in gasoline products.