This originally posted on EcoWatch:
A coalition of community and environmental health groups released Thursday a first-of-its-kind research combining air monitoring methods with new biomonitoring techniques to determine if toxic air emissions from natural gas operations could be detected in the bodies of nearby residents.
The study, When the Wind Blows: Tracking Toxic Chemicals in Gas Fields and Impacted Communities, found evidence of eight hazardous chemicals emitted from Pavillion, Wyoming gas infrastructure in the urine of study participants. Many of those chemicals were present in the participants’ bodies at concentrations far exceeding background averages in the U.S. population.
“If your drinking water is contaminated with toxic chemicals you might be able to make do with another source, but if your air is toxic you can’t choose to breathe somewhere else,” Deb Thomas, director of ShaleTest who lives in Wyoming and was one of the study leaders, said.
“No matter which way the wind blows, gas development involves so many emissions sources that people can’t help but to be exposed to toxic chemicals from their operations. Unfortunately, this is what everybody who is living with oil or gas drilling now has to look forward to if that drilling leads to production.”
Science experts along with community members from Pavillion used a variety of air monitoring and biomonitoring methods in concert to understand if air emissions from gas production equipment are being absorbed into the bodies of nearby residents. They then used new biomonitoring methods that have been developed to detect the signature of hazardous chemicals in study participants through the metabolites or “break-down” products and other evidence of toxic chemical exposure.
“Our family has experienced phantom odors, rashes, hair loss, respiratory conditions, neurological problems, epileptic seizures, cancer and huge hits to how we think and reason,” John Fenton, a Pavillion resident and farmer, said.
“These symptoms match up with the known effects of the toxic chemicals emitted in our air from gas production operations. This biomonitoring project was an opportunity to find out if the chemicals we know are in the air, are also in our bodies.”