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From the Associated Press:
"The World Health Organization and U.S. government classify benzene as an undisputed cause of leukemia and other cancers. "No safe level of exposure can be recommended," according to WHO.
California's Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment in 2014 set a series of limits for the amount of benzene people could be exposed to without risking anemia and other noncancerous disorders.
Those limits are 8 parts per billion for a one-time exposure, 1 part per billion for repeated exposures for eight hours at a stretch, and 1 part per billion for several years or a lifetime.
Michael Jerrett, chairman of the environmental health department at the University of California, Los Angeles, said that because of the limited testing done by SoCalGas early on, it is impossible to know for sure whether there was repeated exposure in parts of the community. He said he believes there is a "high probability" the eight-hour standard was violated.
One problem with the testing is that it was done over very short periods that can indicate spikes but can't provide meaningful data on long-term exposure."