The EPA said benzene levels were safe during Harvey. Private monitoring tells a more troubling story.
"When Hurricane Harvey blew in," Manchester resident Guadalupe Hernandez tells ProPublica, "the stench [of chemical smells] became noticeably stronger for about five hours, a scent like 'glue or boiled eggs.'"
But: "The Environmental Protection Agency assured the public they looked into complaints in the area a week after the storm hit, and spent several days taking air pollution measurements with a mobile laboratory. The agency didn’t release any specifics, but said concentrations of several toxic chemicals, including the carcinogen benzene, met Texas health guidelines."
Private testing, though, revealed "a more nuanced picture."
Elena Craft, a senior health scientist at the Environmental Defense Fund, which sponsored the monitoring with Air Alliance Houston, tells ProPublica that the concentrations were "higher than usual" and "concerning."
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