New Regulations Suggested to Protect People from Oil and Gas Operations: Study
One recent study that didn't get much news coverage has unique interest for Texans -- the finding that more than 17 million Americans live within a mile of an active oil and gas well.
But the study is not of the traditional Texas "If you don't have an oil well, get one!" variety; the results of the peer-reviewed research are seen from the perspective of human environmental health, and are presented as proof that new policies and protective regulations should be considered by lawmakers.
"Our study [published in Environmental Health Perspectives] was specifically designed to determine how many Americans have increased health risks from potential exposure to pollutants emitted from oil and gas development," said Eliza Czolowski, a research associate at PSE Healthy Energy; she was the lead author in the study.
PSE, a non-profit research institute, joined Harvey Mudd College and the University of California, Berkeley for the study, billed as the first peer-reviewed nationwide measurement taking into account the proximity of oil and gas operations to people.
In addition to calculating a national population total, researchers produced a state-by-state comparison that revealed several states with especially high percentages of their population living near active wells, according to EurekAlert.
"West Virginia topped the list, with roughly half -- 50 percent -- of residents living near an active oil or gas well.
"Oklahoma was close behind, at 47 percent of residents living near active wells.
"When one in two members of a population are potentially exposed to a health risk, that's a significant public-health concern," Czolowski said.
About a quarter of Ohioans -- 24 percent -- reside near active wells.
Texas had 4.5 million -- the highest number of residents -- living near active wells, though the state's population and size reduced the percentage of them to well below that of West Virginia.
Children age 5 or younger were considered a notable study subgroup based on vulnerability to environmental exposures; they number 1.4 million living near active US wells.
The study found little difference in the health effects among conventional and unconventional oil production, with many air pollutants emitted during use of all production techniques.
It mentions benzene, formaldehyde and particulate matter among the hazards.
Among the study recommendations for lawmakers are minimum distance requirements between people and oil and gas operations, and use of high-quality air pollution reduction equipment.
It should be added that PSE Healthy Energy has been involved in previous studies citing the danger of oil and gas operations, including one late last year of which Grist noted: “According to a recent study from nonprofit research institute PSE Healthy Energy and West Virginia University, the noise caused by fracking — which takes place both night and day — is connected to an array of health problems associated with sleep disturbance and cardiovascular health, including elevated blood pressure, hypertension, and heart disease.”
By Mike Shiloh
Copyright September 08, 2017, Mike Shiloh, Texas Energy Report LLC, www.texasenergyreport.com, All rights are reserved