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Jamaica: High levels of benzene in air from dump fire

March 23, 2015

KINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) — Jamaican health officials says air quality tests done in the wake of a massive dump fire show such high levels of a known carcinogen that they now consider it a significant public health issue.

The health ministry says air tests taken March 13-14 show the highest levels of benzene the government agency has ever recorded.

In a Monday statement, acting Chief Medical Officer Dr. Marion Bullock DuCasse described it is a “significant public health” matter.

But at the same time, the ministry notes that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say long-term benzene exposure means exposure of a year or more.

A week ago, DuCasse said she did not believe there would be any long-term effects from the dump fire that blanketed Kingston with noxious smoke.

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