A few reports from Concerned Health Professional of New York. For the long read please go to their website and download the latest compendium where they provide weblinks to all the original texts from which the condensed paragraphs have been derived.
August 1, 2015 – “Clinicians should be aware of the potential impact of fracking when evaluating their patients,” concluded a team writing on behalf of the Occupational and Environmental Health Network of the American College of Chest Physicians. Their article stated that the over 200,000 U.S. workers employed by well-servicing companies “… are exposed to silica, diesel exhaust, and VOCs, and, at some sites, hydrogen sulfide and radon, raising concerns about occupational lung diseases, including silicosis, asthma,
and lung cancer.” The authors went on to say, “in addition to occupational exposures, workers and nearby residents are also exposed to air pollutants emitted from various stages of fracking, including nitrogen oxides (NOx), VOCs, ozone, hazardous air pollutants, methane, and fine particulate matter.” Authors pointed to several recent reversals in progress on air quality owed to fracking-related activity, including significant emissions of nitrogen oxides, a precursor of ozone, and spikes in fine particulate matter in fracking-intensive areas of Pennsylvania.
July 1, 2015 – In accordance with California Senate Bill No. 4, the California Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources released a three-volume environmental impact report on oil and gas well stimulation treatments in the state (which, in California, include fracking along with acidizing and other unconventional extraction technologies that break up oil- or gas-containing rock). The Division determined that fracking and related operations can have “significant and unavoidable” impacts on air quality, including increasing ozone and other federally regulated pollutants to levels that violate air quality standards or that would make those violations worse.
October 21, 2014 – Using a mobile laboratory designed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a research team from the University of Colorado at Boulder, the NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory, and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology looked at air pollution from drilling and fracking operations in Utah’s Uintah Basin. The researchers found that drilling and fracking emit prodigious amounts of volatile organic air pollutants, including benzene, toluene, and methane, all of which are precursors for ground-level ozone (smog). Multiple pieces of equipment on and off the well pad, including condensate tanks, compressors, dehydrators, and pumps, served as the sources of these emissions. This research shows that drilling and fracking activities are the cause of the extraordinarily high levels of winter smog in the remote Uintah basin—which regularly exceed air quality standards and rival that of downtown Los Angeles.
October 1, 2014 – In a major paper published in Nature, an international team led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration demonstrated that exceptionally high emissions of VOCs explain how drilling and fracking operations in Utah’s Uintah Basin create extreme wintertime ozone events even in the absence of abundant ultraviolet light and water vapor, which are typically required to produce ground-level ozone (smog). Current air pollution trends in the United States are toward lower nitrogen oxides from urban sources and power generation, but increasing methane and VOCs from oil and gas extraction activities threaten to reverse decades of progress in attaining cleaner air. According to the study, the consequences for public health are ‘as yet unrecognised.’
September 6, 2014 – As part of a comparative lifecycle analysis, a British team from the University of Manchester found that shale gas extracted via fracking in the United Kingdom would generate more smog than any other energy source evaluated (coal, conventional and liquefied gas, nuclear, wind, and solar). Leakage of vaporous organic compounds during the necessary removal of hydrogen sulfide gas, along with the venting of gas both during drilling and during the process of making the well ready for production, were major contributors. “In comparison to other technologies, shale gas has high [photochemical smog]. In the central case, it is worse than solar PV, offshore wind and nuclear power by factors of 3, 26 and 45, respectively. Even in the best case, wind and nuclear power are still preferable (by factors of 3.3 and 5.6 respectively).”
April 26, 2014 – A Texas jury awarded a family $2.8 million because, according to the lawsuit, a fracking company operating on property nearby had “created a ‘private nuisance’ by producing harmful air pollution and exposing [members of the affected family] to harmful emissions of volatile organic compounds, toxic air pollutants and diesel exhaust.” The family’s 11-year-old daughter became ill, and family members suffered a range of symptoms, including “nosebleeds, vision problems, nausea, rashes, blood pressure issues.”98 Because drilling did not occur on their property, the family had initially been unaware that their symptoms were caused by activities around them.