Fire contaminated water

The Paradise Irrigation District has detected unhealthy levels of benzene in water around the Ridge, the utility announced Tuesday (Jan. 8).

PID and the State Water Resources Control Board recently tested drinking water for 30 regulated organic chemicals. Initial results indicated benzene levels above the allowable limit for consumption in locations within the district’s service area.

“It is believed that the contamination occurred when burning plastics, smoke, soot, and ash were drawn into the water system during the devastating Camp Fire,” PID said in a news release—adding that none of the other 29 compounds were detected in tested samples.

Drinking water with elevated levels of benzene can lead to long-term health effects, including anemia and increased risk for cancer.