"It is jaw-dropping," The drinking water in Paradise where the worst wildfire in California’s history happened is contaminated with the cancer-causing benzene
The drinking water in Paradise, where 85 people died in the worst wildfire in state history, is contaminated with the cancer-causing chemical benzene, water officials said.
Officials said they believe the contamination happened after the November firestorm created a "toxic cocktail" of gases in burning homes that got sucked into the water pipes as residents and firefighters drew water heavily, causing a vacuum in the system that sucked in the toxic fumes, the Sacramento Bee reported.
Officials say that may explain why benzene, which has been linked to anaemia and leukaemia, has been found in tests at various spots rather than from one source in Paradise, where 90 per cent of the buildings were decimated by the blaze.
Paradise Irrigation District officials say they have taken about 500 water samples around town, and they have found benzene 30 per cent of the time.
"It is jaw-dropping," said Dan Newton of the state Water Resources Control Board. "This is such a huge scale.
None of us was prepared for this."