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Warning Signs: Toxic Air Pollution Identified at Oil and Gas Sites

Community air monitoring reveals chemicals linked to health hazards
 

The recent U.S. oil and gas boom has transformed hundreds of communities across the country—from rural areas and small towns to suburbs and cities—into industrial production zones.  Oil and gas companies are using unconventional techniques such as hydraulic fracturingknown known as "fracking"to extract deposits wherever they can be reached, even if those places are in the backyards of homes, near schools or places of worship, or on farmland.  Oil and gas production uses hundreds of toxic chemicals that are emitted directly or escape into the air, exposing residents, workers and animals.

In 2012, twelve community groups in 6 states (Arkansas, Colorado, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wyoming), with support from a team of national organizations and experts, decided to test the air near oil and gas development sites located in their communities.

A new report from Coming Clean and Global Community Monitor, titled Warning Signs: Toxic Air Pollution Identified at Oil and Gas Sites, provides results from community air monitoring in those states near oil and gas development sites, including where hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” activities or waste disposal are taking place.  Results show a wide range of hazardous chemicals are present in the air at levels above federal health and safety standards. In some cases, monitors revealed concentrations of hazardous chemicals high enough to pose an immediate health threat to people.

Community members were trained to collect air samples using equipment and methods certified by federal agencies.  They collected air samples when they personally observed activity at the sites or when they suffered symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, or breathing problems. 

 

Although the monitoring data does not conclusively prove a link between specific chemicals and the health symptoms reported by community residents, the stark findings are enough to warrant a precautionary approach to regulation of oil and gas activities.  We must act on these warning signs to place greater emphasis on avoiding health hazards for all people living and working in drilling and production areas.  

Read the News Release

Listen to the News Teleconference:

Results from Community Air Monitoring Reveal Chemicals Linked to Health Hazards

Download the full report (4.6 MB PDF)

Read the peer-reviewed journal article in Environmental Health

Download the peer-reviewed journal article (870 KB PDF)

Communities and Organizations Involved in the Air Monitoring Project

Arkansas

ArkansasFracking.org

 

Colorado

Erie Rising 

 

Ohio

Appalachia Resist

Athens County Fracking Action Network

Frackfree Mahoning Valley

 

New York 

Catskill Mountainkeeper

Hancock Residents for Preservation of the Catskills 

 

Pennsylvania

Breathe Easy Susquehanna County 

Wyoming 

Clark Resource Council

Pavillion Area Concerned Citizens

Powder River Basin Resource Council

Partner Support Organizations

Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments

American Sustainable Business Council

Center for Environmental Health

Commonweal

Global Community Monitor

Moms Clean Air Force

Additional Groups Addressing the Hazards of Oil and Gas Development, and Clean Energy Solutions

Center for Race, Poverty & the Environment

Clean Air Coalition

Clean Air Council

Earthjustice

Earthworks

Faulkner County Citizens Advisory Group

FracTracker Alliance

Physicians for Social Responsibility

ShaleTest

Additional Resources

Coming Clean Flickr Album with report and related photos

Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments Resource Page on Fracking and Public Health

American Sustainable Business Council Resource Page: Rethinking Fracking 

Center for Environmental Health Fracking Campaigns Page

Moms Clean Air Force Resource Page on Natural Gas