Pollution debated in Canada's oil fields

Oct. 26, 2013 at 2:38 PM
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EDMONTON, Alberta, Oct. 26 (UPI) -- U.S. scientists said areas near Canada's oil and gas production zones are heavily polluted and residents suffer elevated levels of different cancers.

The region north of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada's primary oil production hub processing thousands of barrels of oil from the rich tar sands daily, has an air quality worse than some of the world's most polluted cities, a study by the University of California Irvine found.

While the study does not directly link the poor air quality to increased disease, scientists note men living in the region have statistically higher rates of certain types of cancer -- and that those types of cancer have been linked to benzene and other chemicals found in elevated levels in the area.

The study recommends a reduction in air pollution as a precaution.

Local officials said they're not overly concerned, noting there are air monitoring devices in the area they said would notify residents if and when there's a problem, the Edmonton Journal reported Friday.

Neil Shelley of the Industrial Heartland Association said residents have the ability to track air quality by the hour online if they choose -- but most people aren't concerned.

"People around here say it's not worth looking into," Shelley said.

Fort Saskatchewan Mayor Gale Katchur agreed, saying air quality is "well within accepted guidelines."

"If there are any environmental or health impacts, we would be made aware," she said.

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