A number of recent studies have been conducted around the country on air quality near fracking sites and oil fields, with some not-so-surprising results. Mounting evidence from these tests suggest that emissions from these locations are bad for you.
EPA air-toxic monitoring sites in places like Elizabeth, NJ, Tulsa, OK, Pinedale, WY and Erie, CO, are detecting a soup of airborne chemicals, including cancer-causing pollutants like benzene. They’re also finding ethylbenzene and toluene, known to impair the nervous system, according to the EPA.
Fracking sites have been proposed in Denver suburbs like Commerce City, as well as other areas that are a handful of miles away from densely populated city centers. As these locations continue to move from rural communities to urban ones, concerns continue to grow.
The studies that have been done so far have found compelling evidence that being so near poses health risks. But the studies have not been exhaustive, according to Steve Hamburg, chief scientist with the Environmental Defense Fund; scientists are still unsure of the precise amounts of emissions, how they disperse and how far away one needs to be to be “safe.”
In the U.S., the burden of proof lies with those who are being affected by pollutants, not those emitting them. A process like fracking, for example, is considered safe until it’s proven that it isn’t.
To that end, a number of studies are planned:
- NOAA, in cooperation with the Environmental Defense Fund, will conduct a study of Denver-Julesberg Basin emissions using aircraft and a truck packed with instruments.
- The University of Texas, eight major oil companies and Environmental Defense will collect emissions data from drilling to product delivery in four regions — the Gulf Coast, Mid-Continent, Appalachia and the Rocky Mountains.
- And Colorado State University, in cooperation with Colorado operators, is studying drilling, fracking and completion emissions to see how those fumes disperse and interact with the environment.
At least we can breathe a little easier, knowing that both community residents and the oil and gas industry are taking these issues seriously.
Source: Denver Post