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Clin Pediatr (Phila). 2016 Oct;55(12):1143-51. doi: 10.1177/0009922816641463. Epub 2016 May 3.

Illness Symptoms Experienced by Children Exposed to Benzene After a Flaring Incident at the BP Refinery Facility in Texas City.

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University Cancer and Diagnostic Centers, Houston, TX, USA.
University Cancer and Diagnostic Centers, Houston, TX, USA


Objective To evaluate the illness symptoms experienced by children who were exposed to benzene following a flaring incident at the BP refinery in Texas City, Texas. Methods A total of 641 children, aged <17 years, exposed to benzene were included. Using medical charts, data on the children's illness symptoms as well as the serum levels of β-2-microglobulin and the amount of urinary excretion of phenol were reviewed and analyzed. Results A total of 1790 illness symptoms were reported in 641 children exposed to benzene. Upper respiratory symptoms were the most (67%) frequently reported, followed by neurological symptoms (57%), diarrhea (25%), and cough (24%). Logistic regression analysis indicated that neurological symptoms (R(2) = 0.75), chest pain (R(2) = 0.64), joint pain (R(2) = 0.57), and vision difficulty (R(2) = 0.54) were positively associated with increasing age. β-2-Microglobulin levels were significantly higher in children <5 years compared with those >5 year (P = .04). Conversely, urinary phenol levels were significantly lower in children <5 years compared with those >5 years (P = .00). Conclusion Together, these findings reveal that children exposed to benzene experience a range of illness symptoms and an altered profile of urinary phenol indicating their vulnerability to potentially increased health complications.


benzene poisoning; chemical exposure; health complaints; illness symptoms; petroleum refinery; urinary metabolites of benzene

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