Residential homes are often built next to gasoline stations, but researchers in Spain detected contamination from gasoline in homes about 100 yards away.

Study co-author Marta Doval of the University of Murcia and colleagues measured the levels of “typical traffic” pollutants in different parts of Murcia. The researchers calculated the quotients for the levels of an aromatic compound — benzene — and a hydrocarbon — n-hexane — at three Murcia gasoline stations to determine the distance at which the service stations stop having an impact.

“Some airborne organic compounds — such as benzene, which increases the risk of cancer — have been recorded at petrol (gasoline) stations at levels above the average levels for urban areas where traffic is the primary source of emission,” Doval says in a statement.

The study, published in the Journal of Environmental Management, shows the air at gasoline stations is affected by emissions stemming from evaporated vehicle fuels — unburned fuels from fuel loading and unloading operations, refueling and liquid spillages.

However, the distance of contamination depends on the number of gasoline pumps, the amount of fuel pumped, traffic intensity, the structure of the surroundings and weather conditions, the study says.

“In the three cases studied we obtained maximum distances of influence of close to 100 meters, although the average distance over which this contamination has an effect is around 50 yards,” study leader Enrique Gonzalez says.

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