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Pollutants: Air Toxics

Air toxics are pollutants that are most typically associated with cancer risk. They are known to or suspected of causing cancer, birth defects or other serious health effects after a period of exposure.

  • Benzene
    Benzene is a volatile, colorless, highly flammable liquid with a sweet odor. It is an aromatic hydrocarbon present in small proportion in some crude oils. It is found in the emissions from burning coal and oil, motor vehicle exhaust, and evaporation from gasoline service stations. Benzene inhalation may cause headaches, dizziness, drowsiness, confusion, tremors, loss of consciousness, and acute myeloid leukemia (cancer) in chronic exposure situations.
  • 1,3-Butadiene
    1,3-Butadiene is a colorless gas with a mild gasoline-like odor. Sources include motor vehicle exhaust, oil refineries, chemical manufacturing plants, and plastic and rubber factories. It is cancer causing in long-term exposures. Other health effects include irritation of eyes, nasal passages, throat and lungs, and neurological effects such as blurred vision, fatigue, headaches, vertigo, and cardiovascular disease.
  • Xylene
    Xylene is a colorless, sweet-smelling liquid that is highly flammable and occurs naturally in petroleum and coal tar. Sources of xylene exposure include inhaling automobile exhaust or touching gasoline, paint, paint removers, varnish, shellac, and rust inhibitors. Xylene affects the central nervous system (CNS). Health effects from short-term exposure include irritation of the eyes, nose and throat, nausea, vomiting, gastric irritation, and neurological effects. Long-term exposure may cause headaches, dizziness, fatigue, tremors, and loss of coordination.

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American Lung Association of The Upper Midwest
490 Concordia Avenue
St. Paul, MN 55103-2441
Phone: 651-227-8014
Fax: 651-227-5459
Email: cleanairchoice@lungum.org
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