Fracking causes air pollution that is linked to terrible health impacts. Fracking has transformed places like parts of rural Wyoming with pristine mountain air into intense industrial zones with worse air quality than downtown Los Angeles on a bad day. People and families living near fracking cannot choose what air they breathe.
In their comprehensive Compendium of the scientific evidence, the experts organizations Physicians for Social Responsibility and Concerned Health Professionals of New York summarized some of the harms:
“Air pollution associated with fracking is a grave concern with a range of impacts. Researchers have documented dozens of air pollutants from drilling and fracking operations that pose serious health hazards. Areas with substantial drilling and fracking build-out show high levels of ground-level ozone (smog), striking declines in air quality, and, in several cases, increased rates of health problems with known links to air pollution. Air sampling surveys find high concentrations of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), especially carcinogenic benzene and formaldehyde, both at the wellhead and at distances that exceed legal setback distances from wellhead to residence. In some cases, VOC concentrations exceeded federal safety standards by several orders of magnitude. Evidence implicates the U.S. shale gas boom in the recent global spike in atmospheric ethane. Drilling and fracking operations in North Dakota’s Bakken oil and gas field alone contribute two percent of global ethane emissions and directly impact air quality across North America. Ethane is both a greenhouse gas and a precursor for ozone formation.”
Regarding air pollution, New York State concluded from its health and environmental reviews, “The total operations associated with well drilling can be assigned to three “types” of potential sources of air emissions: 1) combustion from engines, compressors, line heaters, and flares; 2) short-term venting of gas constituents which are not flared; and 3) emissions from truck activities near the well pad… there are potential significant adverse health impacts associated with increased levels of particulate matter, ozone, diesel exhaust, and volatile organic compounds.”
Another experts organization, PSE Healthy Energy, provides an important summary of air pollution and other impacts particularly to children as a vulnerable population: The potential impacts of shale gas and oil development on children as a vulnerable population
- In Heavily Fracked Ohio County, Unsafe Levels of Toxic Pollutants (InsideClimate News)
- Study links air pollution in Baltimore, DC to fracking outside Maryland (Baltimore Sun)