Oregon Bans Topping Off
Oregon is one of the few states that has its gasoline fuel pumped by attendants instead of the much more popular self-serve. One might ask what does a ban on topping off on gasoline have to do with the environment? To which I might answer that it has everything to do with the environment and more.
Oregon Bans Topping Off
The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality said in a news release today that levels of a known carcinogen benzene will decrease with this new ban effective today (07/01/09). Since Oregonions have their fuel pumped by a gas station attendant, the implementation of the new ban will be more successful than bans in other states that have self-serve gasoline stations.
“Despite popular belief among some drivers, topping off the tank does not equal more gas in the tank. Topping off during fueling can cause gasoline to spill and release benzene, a known carcinogen, and other toxic air pollutants into the air. This is a health concern for gas station workers and drivers. In addition, most modern pumps simply return the fuel back into the pump after the overflow click which means drivers are paying for gas that does not get into the fuel tank. In some cases, overfilling a gas tank can cause a vehicle’s vapor control system to clog and stop working, which can require costly repairs.” (-DEQ 07/01/2009)
A recent study by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality shows that benzene contributes almost a quarter of the cancer risk in Portland. Air monitoring equipment in Eugene shows that average ambient benzene levels are 10 times the benchmark level believed to spur cancer in humans over a lifetime of exposure, as established by the National Air Toxics Assessment. The DEQ estimates that Portland residents may be exposed to as much as forty times over (40X) safety levels of benzene in ambient air.
Furthermore, benzene is one of the volatile organic compounds that play a significant part in the formation of ground-level ozone, a corrosive air pollutant that damages plants and increases the severity of climate change.
Gasoline refueling is a large source of ambient benzene concentration in Oregon’s air. This is due, in part, to the fact that gasoline in the Northwest region has double the benzene content of gasoline sold in other parts of the country, and three times the amount allowed in California. The national average for benzene content is 0.97 percent to 0.62 percent by volume; however the EPA allows gasoline sold in the Northwest to contain 2.06 percent by volume.
While other states require benzene vapor controls at gas stations, Oregon has not developed such a policy. As a result, Oregonians are exposed to excessive amounts of benzene from refueling activities and car exhaust.
While some may feel this new ban may intrude on their rights, many may not know they are simply wasting their money and further contributing to the detriment of their local air quality. Many thanks to the Beyond Toxics for their work in providing public education and support for this ban.
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