Benzene Levels in Denver Waterway Are 400 Times Drinking Water Standards


Source: EMSL Analytical, Inc.

EMSL Analytical, the nation’s leading industrial hygiene laboratory, tests for benzene and other pollutants

The U.S. Environmental Agency (EPA) is trying to prevent benzene-contaminated water in Sand Creek from flowing into South Platte River, a major source of drinking and agricultural water for northeastern Colorado.


Benzene is so toxic that even tiny amounts are considered dangerous; therefore, the EPA has set a national standard for the compound’s concentration in drinking water of 5 parts per billion (ppb). The concentrations in Sand Creek ranged from 2,000 ppb where “black goo” flowed from the shoreline to 480 ppb where the creek enters the South Platte River, reports the Denver Post.


Long-term exposure (one year or more) to benzene can cause cancer and a decrease in blood platelets, which can lead to anemia. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), ingesting high levels of benzene can sometimes cause the following symptoms within minutes to several hours: vomiting, irritation of the stomach, dizziness, sleepiness, convulsions, rapid or irregular heartbreak, and death.


The Denver Post notes that the source of the “black goo” in Sand Creek is thought to be Suncor Energy, which processes 93,000 barrels per day of gasoline, diesel fuel, and paying-grade asphalt.


“EMSL Analytical, Inc. uses NIOSH method 1501 to test for benzene in air and water samples,” states Joseph Frasca, Senior VP at EMSL. “We only use approved methods in the industry, so clients can rely on quality results from our laboratory.”


For more information on EMSL’s food testing services, please contact EMSL at (800) 220-3675, visit, or email


About EMSL Analytical, Inc.

EMSL Analytical, Inc. is a full service testing company providing quality lab services under the same private ownership since 1981. Including the corporate lab facility in Cinnaminson, NJ, EMSL Analytical operates over thirty laboratories nationwide in the US and Canada. We provide analytical services for environmental, indoor air quality (IAQ), industrial hygiene, forensics and materials science, consumer products, food safety, PCR, pharmaceutical, asbestos, lead, and radiological samples. The company has an extensive list of accreditations from leading organizations, as well as state and federal regulating bodies. Please see our website for a complete listing of accreditations.


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