A mix of volatile organic
chemicals coming from the process of fracking oil and gas wells poses a health
risk to people living within a half-mile of a drilling site, according to a new
study by the University of Colorado-Denver School of Public Health.
The three-year study in Garfield
County detected levels of chemicals such as trimethylbenzenes, aliaphatic
hydrocarbons, and xylenes in the air. All those chemicals can have neurological
or respiratory effects, the study said.
Those effects could include eye
irritation, headaches, sore throat and difficulty breathing.
"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."
Completions involve hydrofacturing,
a process in which water, sand and trace chemicals are forced down the well
under pressure to crack the rock to release more oil and gas and flowback, when
the frack fluid and hydrocarbons return to the surface.
The study will be published in an
upcoming edition of Science of the Total Environment.
"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, the study's lead author and research
associate at the CU-Denver School of Public Health.
Mark Jaffe: 303-954-1912 or email@example.com