Nine air samples by residents near natural
gas drilling in Colorado and New Mexico found four carcinogens and 18 other
toxic chemicals, a new report says.
The nonprofit group Global Community Monitor
says that in some cases chemicals were found at levels from three to 3,000
times levels deemed safe by state and federal agencies for long-term exposure.
Although the samples are one-time measures, the group says it believes they are
indicative of long-term exposures.
The monitoring found numerous instances of
high levels of the carcinogen benzene and other toxins in the Durango area. One
Garfield County site, on Silt Mesa, was included in the study report. There, a
sample taken Jan. 15 found hydrogen sulfide at a level more than 185 times
above the long-term amount the Environmental Protection Agency believes creates
an increased risk of serious health impacts, the report says.
The family involved in that case, the
Strudleys, reported a rotten-egg smell and said they suffered from headaches,
nosebleeds and rashes. They since have moved from their home and sued Antero
Resources, which has drilled exploratory wells on Silt Mesa, including one
about a half-mile from their home.
Most other toxins tested for in the air
sampled at the Strudleys’ were not detected, although toluene, hexane and
heptane were found at levels not considered dangerous.
Global Community Monitor trains people
serving in so-called “Bucket Brigades” to do air sampling using collection
equipment contained in buckets. The samples are analyzed by certified labs.