There can be, legally, 5 parts benzene per billion parts of water (5 ppb) in your drinking water in the U.S., and 1 ppb in the UK.
But there is no limit for how much benzene can be present in soda, and the FDA doesn’t think benzoate plus vitamin C commonly results in benzene…though it can’t otherwise explain how benzene got there.
Benzene causes cancer, especially leukemia, and specifically AML. Benzene is smelled at gas stations, is present in paint and other fumes, and contaminates water and air and hazardous waste sites.
Research published in the early 1990s demonstrates that benzoate plus vitamin C yields benzene.
Safeway Select Diet Orange, AquaCal Strawberry Flavored Water, Crystal Light Sunrise Classic Orange and Giant Light Cranberry Juice Cocktail contain more than 10 ppb, according to the FDA, and Crush Pineapple contains 5 ppb. The samples, according to the WSJ, were “collected from November 2005 to April 2006 from retail stores in Maryland, Virginia and Michigan.”
Sodas preserved with benzoate and containing vitamin C can clearly result in benzene. To lower your cancer risk, avoid them.