Colorado study assesses potential health risks of toxic gases associated with oil and gas drilling
Posted on March 20, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Pollution from oil drilling has potential health impacts.
Data leaves little doubt about ill-effects of toxic gases
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Just a few weeks after NOAA researchers revealed findings that oil and gas development leads to elevated levels of air pollution along the Front Range, a Colorado School of Public Health study shows that air pollution caused by fracking may contribute to acute and chronic health problems for those living near natural gas drilling sites.
“Our data show that it is important to include air pollution in the national dialogue on natural gas development that has focused largely on water exposures to hydraulic fracturing,” said Lisa McKenzie, Ph.D., MPH, lead author of the study and research associate at the Colorado School of Public Health.
The report is based on three years of air quality monitoring. It found a number of potentially toxic petroleum hydrocarbons in the air near the wells including benzene, ethylbenzene, toluene and xylene. Benzene has been identified by the Environmental Protection Agency as a known carcinogen. Other chemicals included heptane, octane and diethylbenzene but information on their toxicity is limited.
“Our results show that the non-cancer health impacts from air emissions due to natural gas development is greater for residents living closer to wells,” the report said. “The greatest health impact corresponds to the relatively short-term, but high emission, well-completion period.”