Objectives: To evaluate the health risks associated with benzene exposure in elderly subjects following a flaring disaster at the BP refinery in Texas City, Texas.
Methods: Elderly subjects aged 60 years and older who had been exposed and unexposed to benzene were included. We reviewed medical charts and compared measures of white blood cells (WBC), platelets, hemoglobin, hematocrit, blood urea nitrogen (BUN), creatinine, alkaline phosphatase (ALP), aspartate amino transferase (AST), and alanine amino transferase (ALT) in exposed and unexposed elderly subjects.
Results: Records from 294 elderly subjects (benzene exposed, n=216 and unexposed, n=78) were reviewed. Benzene exposed subjects had significantly higher levels of WBC (X 103 per µL) (7.7±1.9 versus 6.3±1.5, P=0.0000) and platelet (X 103 per µL) counts (256.8 ± 51.6 versus 237.9 ± 41.9, P=0.0104) compared with the unexposed subjects. Serum creatinine levels (mg/dL) were also significantly increased in the exposed group compared with the unexposed group (1.1 ± 0.4 versus 0.9±0.2, P=0.000). Serum levels of ALP (IU/L) were significantly elevated in the exposed subjects compared with the unexposed subjects (87.5 ± 23.6 versus 72.5 ± 17.8, P=0.000). Similarly, benzene exposed subjects had significantly higher levels of AST (24.8 ± 6.2 versus 19.2 ± 5.1, IU/L, P=0.000) and ALT (24.2 ± 8.6 versus 19.1 ± 4.8, IU/L, P=0.000) compared with those unexposed to benzene.
Conclusions: Benzene exposure resulted in significant alterations in hematological and hepatic profiles among elderly subjects.