Studies Confirm North Texas Fracking Is Protective of Public Health

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Numerous studies have shown that natural gas development (including fracking) is protective of public health, contrary to what anti-fracking activists have claimed. But don’t just take our word for it. Here’s a list of scientific reports and peer-reviewed studies, authored by health experts who focused specifically on the Barnett Shale region in North Texas.

 

Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (Journal of Unconventional Oil and Gas Resources, 2015): Shale gas production in the Barnett has not resulted in harmful levels of air emissions.

  • Shale gas production activities have not resulted in community-wide exposures to…VOCs at levels that would post a health concern.”
  • “Long-term VOC levels were all below their health-based comparison levels.”

 

Modern Geosciences (2015):  Air emissions from natural gas development are below levels considered harmful to public health.

  • Concentrations of benzene…toluene…and p-xylene were noted above the equipment detection limits. Other VOCs were identified and estimated as concentrations below the lowest calibration level. None of the observed VOCs were noted above the comparison criteria.” (p. 7)
  • “Concentrations of various VOCs were noted above the equipment detection limits or identified at estimated concentrations below the lowest calibration level. None of the observed VOCs were noted above the regulatory comparison criteria.” (p. 8)
  • “Detectable concentrations of methane (up to 1 ppmv) were noted during the monitoring events. The highest methane concentrations were noted downwind and crosswind of the padsite, as well as at the background point. The observed results did not exceed the respective screening goals.” (p. 8)

 

Desert Research Institute (Journal of the Air & Waste Management Association, 2014): Drilling sites in the Barnett Shale are “not likely” to impact regional air quality.

  • “Overall, the study results indicate that air quality impacts due to individual gas wells and compressor stations are not likely to be discernible beyond a distance of approximately 100 m in the downwind direction.” (p. 1369)
  • “The average concentrations of VOC species measured by passive samplers were low, generally below 1 ppb. These concentrations are comparable or slightly higher than those measured by TCEQ over the same time period with continuous autoGCs in Fort Worth and DISH, and much lower than those specified by the short- and long-term health-based Air Monitoring Comparison Values (e.g., 180 and 1.4 ppbv, respectively, for benzene).” (p. 1381)

 

ToxStrategies (Science of The Total Environment, 2014): No health concerns associated with shale gas development in the Barnett Shale. 

  • Shale gas production activities have not resulted in community-wide exposures to those VOCs at levels that would pose a health concern.” (p. 832)
  • “As indicated in Fig. 2, the similarity in benzene air concentrations at both Fort Worth Northwest (an urban monitor in the Barnett Shale region) and the Dallas Hinton (an urban monitor outside of the Barnett Shale region) monitors suggests that the measured benzene is likely primarily due to sources other than shale gas operations.” (p. 841)
  • “When the findings of the current study are considered along with the findings of other studies, including the comprehensive biomonitoring study conducted in the Barnett Shale region, the body of evidence demonstrates that shale gas production activities have not resulted in community-wide exposures to VOCs in air at levels that would pose a health concern, despite the dramatic increase in shale gas operations in the region over the last decade. (p. 841)

 

Texas Department of State Health Services (2014): No evidence of ‘cancer cluster’ in Flower Mound.

  • “The observed number of childhood leukemias, childhood brain/CNS cancers, and childhood liver cancers was not higher than expected in both males and females in zip code 75022 (Table 4), zip code 75028 (Table 5), and both zip codes combined (Table 6).” (p. 5)

 

Eastern Research Group (2011): No significant health risks found from natural gas activities in the Barnett Shale.

  • A health-screening analysis of the measured and estimated air pollution levels identified three pollutants – acrolein, benzene, and formaldehyde – as the most important from a risk perspective. While Fort Worth residents are exposed to these and other pollutants released from natural gas sites, the measured and estimated air pollution levels did not reach levels that have been observed to cause adverse health effects. Further, the measured benzene and formaldehyde levels in Fort Worth were not unusually elevated when compared to levels measured by TCEQ elsewhere in Texas” (p. xiii)

 

Texas Department of State Health Services (2010): Nothing to indicate “higher risk” of cancer in areas with nearby drilling.

  • “DSHS analyzed the occurrence of childhood and overall leukemia, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, childhood brain cancer and female breast cancer in the 75022 and 75028 ZIP codes… ‘The incidence of all but breast cancer was within a statically normal range in these two Flower Mound area,’ said Eric Miller, the DSHS epidemiologist who conducted the analysis. ‘We found nothing in the data to indicate the community is at higher risk for these types of cancers.’”
  • “In ZIP code 75028 and both ZIP codes combined, the analysis did find a statistically higher than expected number of breast cancer cases, although there isn’t any established scientific link between breast cancer and benzene, the contaminant of chief concern to the Flower Mound community. The breast cancer result could be due to overall population increases in Flower Mound and the likelihood that women in this area are more frequently screened for breast cancer.”
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