Small Spills at Gas Stations Are Actually a Big Deal

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Every time you go to the gas station to fill up your tank, it’s likely that you spill a few drops on the ground. That may not seem like a big deal, but the cumulative effects of all those little droplets are adding up to serious long-term environmental damage, according to recent research out of Johns Hopkins.

Here’s how it happens: over the years, those little dribs and drabs of gasoline soak into the concrete pads underneath the gas pumps– as much as 1,500 liters over the course of 10 years. After enough time, they soak through the concrete and seep into soil and groundwater, contaminating it.

“Even if only a small percentage reaches the ground, this could be problematic because gasoline contains harmful chemicals including benzene, a known human carcinogen,” study leader Markus Hilpert, a senior scientist in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences in the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told the Hopkins Hub.

So far, the effects of living near a gas station on people’s health has not been well studied, however.

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