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Volume 171: debated on Wednesday 25 April 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if his Department is aware of any evidence to suggest that the use of benzene in consumer products is carcinogenic.

I have been asked to reply.We are not aware of any evidence which indicates a link between benzene in consumer products and the onset of cancer. Benzene is toxic at high doses and is classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as a human carcinogen on the basis of data from workers who were exposed to high levels in the past. The maximum concentration of benzene permitted under European directives in consumer products is 0ยท1 per cent.; except for motor fuels which are covered by a separate directive, this limits the amount of benzene in petrol to 5 per cent.