Study Documents Air Pollution Risks from Fracking
A study published today in the journal Environmental Health, co-authored by CEH Research Director Caroline Cox, exposes the health risks from air pollution around oil and gas developments, including fracking sites. Along with the study, CEH and our partner groups in the Coming Clean coalition released the report, Warning Signs: Toxic Air Pollution Identified at Oil and Gas Development Sites.
While there has been much attention to water pollution from fracking, there has been little study of the industry’s air pollution problems. The study and the report released today are based on air monitoring and testing conducted by community members who live near the polluting operations in six states – Arkansas, Colorado, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and Wyoming. Results from the air sampling were analyzed by CEH and a team of health, science, and community experts before publication in the peer-reviewed journal. The results were shocking:
- Fifteen of the 35 “grab” air samples (meaning, where air is intentionally drawn into a sampling device), had concentrations of volatile chemicals that exceeded federal exposure risk levels for cancer, or for non-cancer health effects.
- Fourteen of the 41 passive samples (where air naturally passes through a sampling device) had concentrations of volatile chemicals that exceeded federal exposure risk levels for cancer, or for non-cancer health effects.
- One sample had air pollution levels that may pose an immediate danger to life or health, according to Centers for Disease Control guidelines.
- Benzene, a known human carcinogen, was detected at sample locations in Pennsylvania and Wyoming, in levels exceeding health-based standards by several orders of magnitude.
- In three states, formaldehyde was detected at levels exceeding the health-based standards of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).
Study: Air concentrations of volatile compounds near oil and gas production: A community-based exploratory study, Environmental Health, October 30, 2014.
Blog post by Caroline Cox, CEH Research Director