Scientists in Boston and New Mexico have shown that exposure to petroleum is linked to the deadly auto-immune disease lupus.
The illness is already known to have genetic origins — African- American women are nine times more likely to get it.
But reports show the environment plays a role, especially in two black neighborhoods in Boston. Residents of Roxbury and Mattapan live near gasoline stations or sites near petroleum-product dumping groups, and have the highest rate of lupus in the region.
Another study of people living in a housing development in Hobbs, New Mexico, built on the site of a former oil-field dump, detected an incidence of Lupus at 30 to 99 times higher than estimates for the general population.
Scientists found high levels of mercury and a petroleum hydrocarbon called pristane in residents’ bloodstreams; both chemicals are known to cause lupus in animals.
“Study: Roxbury, Mattapan have higher levels of lupus”
Boston Globe, May 17, 2007
“Lupus cluster at oilfield points finger at pollution”
New Scientist, May 11, 2007