April, 2 2012
Most people want their homes to be a safe haven where their families can grow and thrive. Yet for thousands of Americans who find themselves living next to natural gas drilling sites, that sense of safety is becoming harder to preserve.
A new study by researchers from the Colorado School of Public Health found that air pollution near natural gas fracking sites increased the risk of significant health problems for people living near drill sites.
The researchers detected a toxic stew of natural gas-related chemicals, including benzene, a known carcinogen, in the air. Exposure to these chemicals is linked to headaches, asthma symptoms, childhood leukemia, and multiple myeloma. They concluded that people living within a half-mile of these drill pads were at greater risk for health problems. Colorado lets companies sink wells as close as 150 feet to people’s houses.
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|Photo credit: Shane Davis, Sierra Club, Rocky Mountain Chapter|
This study confirms reports of hazardous air pollution and related health problems in communities around the country near natural gas fracking. Fracking entails mixing dangerous chemicals with large amounts of water and sand, then injecting this frack cocktail into wells at extremely high pressure in order to release natural gas reserves. This technique has allowed oil and gas companies to access previously out-of-reach reserves.
As a result, natural gas development has swept across many parts of America at break-neck speed in the past ten years. Unfortunately, federal and state safeguards to protect people and the environment from fracking have not kept pace.Energy companies have been allowed to run roughshod over communities, leaving contaminated drinking water, dirty air, gutted property values, and greater earthquake risk in their wake. Companies don’t always play by the rules that do exist, and the industry has used its political power to escape accountability for its actions.