Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Reference: Chanthaburi residents face cancer risk, Bangkok Post, July 2, 2008

It is reported that 21 of a sample of 469 urine samples collected near the Map Ta Phut industrial area in Thailand showed excessive exposure to benzene (Chanthaburi residents face cancer risk, Bangkok Post, July 2, 2008). The report concludes that the petrochemical industries located at the industrial area are exposing people in adjacent communities to cancer. This conclusion does not follow from the data provided. Data from a control group are necessary for the purpose of comparison. Only if the ratio of 21 to 469 is significantly higher than that of the control group could one blame the proximity of the industrial area for exposure to benzene particularly because exposure to benzene is epidemic in Thailand. Many Thais pour petrol from old whiskey bottles into their motorcycle or sleep in a cloud of gasoline fumes when they bring their motorcycle into their home at night. They appear to have no aversion to contact with gasoline, a substance known to contain benzene.

Cha-am Jamal

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