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Health Risks of Living Near

Natural Gas Development


Anne C. Epstein, MD, FACP
100% Renewable Denton
Town Hall
March 25, 2016

Health Hazards of Living in the Midst


of Dense Natural Gas Development

Blowouts and Explosions


Burns from well fires
Plumes of toxic gas
Toxic air pollutants- Benzene
Human Illness documented
Congenital heart disease, low
birth weight, premature birth
Heart disease, neurologic
disease, and hospitalizations
Respiratory and skin symptoms

Image Credit: Cooper Nell, Denton TX

Blowouts, Explosions, & Evacuations

Haley M, McCawley M, Epstein AC, Arrington B, Bjerke EF. Adequacy of Current State Setbacks for
Directional High-Volume Hydraulic Fracturing in the Marcellus, Barnett, and Niobrara Shale Plays. Environ
Health Perspect; http://dx.doi.org/10.1289/ehp.1510547

Barnett Shale: 16 Blowouts since


2006, including:
-Ft. Worth 2006- 500 homes
evacuated in half-mile radius, 1
worker killed
-Denton 2013-4 homes evacuated,
flights diverted
-Arlington 2015- 100 homes
evacuated for 1/8 mile diameter
-Denton 2015- Lightning, explosion,
fire; self-evacuations
Avg evacuation zone: 3 shales
0.8 miles (range 660-13,200 ft)
Avg no. of families/homes
displaced
49 (range 3 to 500)
Image from Fox News, 6/7/10, re gas well explosion
near Granberry TX. Fire visible 30 miles away

Risk of Burns from Blowout Fires

Haley M, McCawley M, Epstein AC, Arrington B, Bjerke EF. Adequacy of Current State Setbacks for
Directional High-Volume Hydraulic Fracturing in the Marcellus, Barnett, and Niobrara Shale Plays. Environ
Health Perspect; http://dx.doi.org/10.1289/ehp.1510547

500 feet from a well fire :


2nd degree burns
after 30 min
350 feet from a well fire:
2nd degree burns
after 22 secs
How long does it take to
evacuate a school?
Sandy Hook Elem:
30 min
(For a typical gas well producing 5.8 cu ft /
day, pipe diameter 6 in. Methane burns @
3452 degrees F. Calculations for outdoor
exposure.)
Image: theexaminer.com: gas well blowout in 2011, in Village
Creek State Park in East Texas

How Far Can Toxic Gas Plumes Travel?


Fort Worth League of Neighborhoods, Recommendations for Policy Changes for Gas Drilling Near Schools, Feb
2011

2 well sites close to schools


Data from Industry, TCEQ
Dispersion Modeling
Carbon Disulfide- a neurotoxin
Detected at one site 300 times
the norm for ambient air- TCEQ
violation
Plume extended 1 mile from the
source, full extent> 2 mi
Up to 1000 times the short term
health benchmark

Carbonyl Sulfide
Plume extended in excess of 1
mile
Up to 6 times the health
benchmark

Pollutants from Natural Gas Power Plants


https://www3.epa.gov/ttnchie1/ap42/ch03/final/c03s01.pdf

Nitrogen Oxides
Lung disease hospitalizations, ozone

Carbon Monoxide
Reduces oxygen in the blood

VOCs (More w/lower operating load)ozone

Hazardous Air Pollutants


Formaldehyde skin, respiratory, cancer
Benzene blood & immune disease, cancer
Toluene- neurologic disease
Ethylbenzene- respiratory, neurologic
Xylenes- neurologic, respiratory
Sulfur Dioxide Acid rain
Particulate Matter
Serious heart & lung disease including
death, haze, acid rain
www3.epa.gov multiple pages
Image: Calpine Corp, Photographer: Guadalupe Energy Center
near San Antonio

Toxic Air Emissions:


Benzene

A highly toxic carcinogen that


occurs naturally in oil and gas
VOC-volatile organic compound
Long-term health effects
Leukemia- a Group 1 Carcinogen
Life-threatening anemia
Immune system suppression
Possible fetal abnormalities
Very high levels of exposure
Coma, seizures, irregular heart rhythms,
fluid in the lungs, death
Children and developing fetuses are more
vulnerable to all toxic air emissions

ATSDR August 2007, ww.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxicprofiles/tp3.pdf,


CDC Emergency Safety and Health Database
Paulson, Testimony before House Subcommittee Feb 2014

Benzene from Gas Leaks:


TCEQ Barnett Shale Study 2009
94 monitoring sites surveyed 2009
Looking for leaks
Flyover, GasFindIR cameras, VOC
monitors
Air samples collected at 73 sites
Benzene was detected above the long
term health based comparison value
(> 1.4 ppb) at 21 monitoring sites in
12 different areas
2 sites required immediate action for
value > 180 ppb
1 compressor station:1100 ppb
1 gas well: 15,000 ppb (5 feet from
the well)
Both repaired, came into compliance
TCEQ Interoffice Memo Jan 27, 2010, Health Effects Review of Barnett Shale Formation
Area Monitoring Projects and Sadlier & Honeycutt, TCEQ Barnett Shale Update 2010
Image: VOC emissions captured on infrared camera by TCEQ 2009

Flyover Air Monitoring in Colorado


Petron et al, American Geophysical Union, May 2014

National Oceanic and


Atmospheric Administration
A Top Down evaluation of
benzene and other toxic air
emissions
Airborne measurements of air
pollutants 12 flights in May
2012
Correlated with atmospheric
data
Results: Benzene emissions
were 7 - 9 times higher than
estimated by State of Colorado
inventories
Image Credit: Will von Dauster, NOAA

Human health risk assessment of air emissions from


development of unconventional natural gas resources
McKenzie et al, Science of the Total Environment 424 (2012)

Colorado School of Public Health

Measured hazardous air pollutants


at different distances from O&G wells

Near: 500 feet from a well


Far: 2600 feet from a well

Found elevated levels of Benzene,


Toluene, Ethylbenzene, Xylene
(BTEX) closer to wells compared to
farther away

Calculated the risk of illness

Concluded People living 500 feet


or less from wells had
5 TIMES higher risk of illness due
to hazardous air pollutants

Median Air Toxin Concentrations During Well


Completion in Garfield County CO
McKenzie et al, Science of the Total Environment, 22 March 2012

9
8
7
6
5
4
mcg/3m3
2
1
0

Natural Gas
Development Area
> 1/2 mile away
Well Completion
samples 130-500 ft
from well pad center
during uncontrolled
flowback

West Virginia Dept of Environmental Protection


May 2013
McCawley 2013
The Study
Reason for Study: to assess
whether 625 foot setback is
adequate to protect public health
Sample sites: 7 unconventional
drilling sites
Results
Benzene levels exceeded minimum
risk levels for acute exposure (9
ppb for exposure of 14 days or less)
in
5 out of 15 samples, from
3 out of 5 different sites

INTENSE EXPOSURE TO NATURAL GAS WELLS


MAY AFFECT YOUR HEALTH:
5 IMPORTANT HUMAN HEALTH STUDIES
IMAGE: REUTERS/TIM SHAFFER, DIMMOCK PA

Birth Outcomes and Maternal Residential


Proximity to Natural Gas Development in
Rural Colorado
McKenzie et al, Environmental Health Perspectives, 28 January 2014
The data: 1996 - 2009
All birth records in rural Colorado
All hospital and clinic records of
birth defects
Records of location and year built for
all gas wells in rural Colorado
Total 124,842 births
Maternal exposure to gas wells: how
far away and how many gas wells at
the time of birth
3 exposure groups:
Low = 1-3 wells/mile
Medium = 4-124 wells/ mile
High >124 wells/ mile

Reference group: no gas wells within


10 miles
Image Credit: Erie Rising

Birth Outcomes and Maternal Residential Proximity to


Natural Gas Development in Rural Colorado
McKenzie et al, Environmental Health Perspectives, 28 January 2014

Number of babies born with


Congenital Heart Disease
Compared to 0 wells w/in 10
miles:

10% increased risk

for 1-3
wells/ mile , low exposure (281 births)

20% increased risk

for 4-124
wells/ mile, medium exposure (300
births)

30% increased risk

for > 125

wells/ mile, high exposure (355 births )

Statistical significance p< 0.001


Adjusted for multiple factors

Image Credit: BabyMed.com

Unconventional Natural Gas Development and Birth


Outcomes in Pennsylvania, USA
Casey et al, Epidemiology, accepted 19 August 2015
All 10,000 babies born in 2 hospitals
in PA 2006-2015
Calculated babies exposure to well
activity within 20 KM during the
pregnancy
Babies in the highest quartile of
exposure (avg 124 wells/ 20 km) had a
40 % increased risk of premature
birth
Compared to babies in the lowest
quartile of exposure (avg 6 wells/ 20
km)
Statistically significant, adjusted for
multiple variables
Image Credit: Shutterstock

Perinatal Outcomes and Unconventional Natural


Gas Operations in Southwest Pennsylvania
Stacy et al, PLOS ONE, June 3, 2015
15,471 birth records
3 counties in PA 2007-2010

509 active UNG wells


Estimated exposure
number and distance of wells w/in 10
miles during pregnancy

Results
Infants in the highest quartile of
exposure (> 6 wells/ mile) were
34% more likely to have low
birthweight, below 10th percentile
Compare to infants in the lowest
quartile of exposure (< 0.87 wells/mi)
Results statistically significant (p = .02)
adjusted for multiple factors
Image credit: Getty Images

Unconventional Gas and Oil Drilling is Associated


with Increased Hospital Utilization Rates
Jamielita et al, PLOS ONE July 15, 2015

All 95,000 hospitalization records


from 3 rural counties in PA 20072011
Patient Exposure to active wells
sorted by zip code
17 zip codes had > 100 wells

People in zip codes with a higher


number or density of wells had
significantly more
Total hospitalizations
Hospitalizations for heart disease
44.7 in highest quartile
compared to 35.2 w/o wells
Hospitalizations for neurological
disease (stroke, Parkinsons)

Compared to zip codes with no


wells
Image credit: Todd Heisler/The New York TImes

Proximity to Natural Gas Wells and Reported Health Status:


Results of a Household Survey in Washington County, PA
Rabinowitz et al Environmental Health Perspectives Sept 2014

The Data
180 households/ 494 individuals with a
private water well
624 active natural gas wells
Survey regarding health symptoms
The Results
Compared to people living > 2 km from
the nearest gas well, People living < 1 km
away had a greater incidence of:
Upper respiratory symptoms (39% vs
18%)
Skin symptoms (13% vs 3%)
Average number of reported symptoms
(3.3 vs 1.6)
Results statistically significant even after
adjustment for multiple factors
Image from Parr Family, Lisa Parrs daughter, Emma (published
by CNN) TX

Summary :The Scientific Evidence for


Human Illness Associated with Natural Gas
Development

Image credit: Lighthouse Solar

In high quality scientific


studies, intense exposure
to UNG natural gas activity
has been linked to:
Congenital heart disease
Premature birth
Low birth weight
Adult hospitalizations
Adult heart disease
Adult neurologic disease
Respiratory and skin
symptoms

Health Hazards of Living in the Midst


of Dense Natural Gas Development

Blowouts and Explosions


Burns from well fires
Plumes of toxic gas
Toxic air pollutants- Benzene
Human Illness documented
Congenital heart disease, low
birth weight, premature birth
Heart disease, neurologic
disease, and hospitalizations
Respiratory and skin symptoms

Image Credit: Cooper Nell, Denton TX