There is 10 per cent more cancer in Sola and neighboring mununicipalities than the Norwegian average. However, the Cancer Registry of Norway is not able to connect this to the emissions from the refinery.
The Cancer Registry, commissioned by AS Norske Shell, has surveyed if there exists more cancer cases among the employees or those living near the closed Shell refinery, than in the general population. The results were presented for residents, earlier employees and the Press on Wednesday, June 17. 2009.
The Sola Refinery was operating from 1967-2000; converting crude oil into all types of petroleum distillates. Parts of such a process include the processing and production of agents that are known to be carcinogenic. Those cancer types that are overly represented in the study have no documented connection with the emissions linked to the refinery.
Low pollution levels
The spread patterns of the emissions were evaluated by the Norwegian Institute for Air Research (NILU). Residency information was delivered by the Population Registry and information about a possible cancer diagnosis came from the Cancer Registry of Norway. Numbers for emission of volatile organic compounds (VOC) and particles (PM10) were used as a basis in calculating added exposure for respectively benzene and polycyclic aromatic carbon (PAH). The levels were low compared to other pollution sources, such as car traffic and tobacco smoke for benzene and car traffic and wood burning for PAH.
There is no increased incidence of acute myelogenous leukemia, lung cancer or bladder cancer among those who were most exposed to respectively benzene or PAH from the refinery, neither in the group of employees or among residents.
The study shows that the total incidence of cancer among the residents (presently and formerly residing in Sola) lies around 10 per cent higher that the rest of the country. The same findings are in the neighboring municipalities and to a lesser extent from Rogaland County in general.
The increased incidence is mainly linked to cancer types that appear independent of the relevant emissions, or cancer types where the connection is not documented. Other factors are thought to play a larger part in the incidence of breast and ovarian cancer in women, prostate cancer in men and also in malignant melanoma, other skin cancers and gastrointestinal cancer.