June 22, 2016 - 2:17 PM EDT
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Toxic Chemicals Linked To Natural Gas Operations Detected In The Bodies Of Nearby Residents

Using Both Air Monitoring and New Biomonitoring Methods, Researchers Aim to Connect the Dots Between Air Emissions from Gas Operations and Human Health Impacts

PAVILLION, Wyo., June 22, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- For a full copy of the report and supporting materials click here.

A coalition of community and environmental health groups has just released first-of-its-kind research combining air monitoring methods with new biomonitoring techniques. The groups, working within the Coming Clean environmental health collaborative, sought to determine if toxic air emissions from natural gas operations could be detected in the bodies of nearby residents. The study, titled "When the Wind Blows: Tracking Toxic Chemicals in Gas Fields and Impacted Communities", found that eight hazardous chemicals emitted from Pavillion, Wyoming gas infrastructure were also detected in the urine of study participants. Researchers developed new biomonitoring methods to detect the signature of hazardous chemicals in study participants through metabolites or other biochemical evidence of exposure. Many of these chemicals were present in the study participants' bodies at concentrations far exceeding background averages of the U.S. population. 

Researchers found volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the air emitted from gas operations in Pavillion, and in the air immediately surrounding people working and living in the area. Later, researchers found evidence of many of these same chemicals in study participants' bodies. The study focused on VOCs, and a specific family of VOCs named BTEX chemicals (Benzene, Toluene, Ethylbenzene, and Xylenes), because these chemicals are known to be hazardous to human health, even at low levels. VOCs detected in this study are linked to chronic diseases such as cancer, reproductive or developmental disorders; as well as respiratory problems, headaches, nosebleeds, and skin rashes – all of which are symptoms that Pavillion residents have complained about for years. Study leaders note that because VOCs are so ubiquitous in products and in our homes, it is technically possible that the VOCs detected in participants' bodies came from multiple sources, however, the ubiquitous presence of hazardous chemicals in the air surrounding Pavillion residents is more than enough reason for concern. Having conducted this new "methods development" for air and biomonitoring of toxic chemicals related to gas operations, researchers hope to improve upon these methods to further understand how these chemicals may impact public health.

John Fenton, a Pavillion resident and farmer said, "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. 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."

Following the release of the report, representatives from community and public health organizations met with US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrators to push for protective standards for toxic chemicals at existing oil and gas development sites and at all phases of oil and gas production. They also presented the report to Congressional staff, asking elected officials to support cutting air toxics and greenhouse gas emissions from oil and gas development. Report recommendations include further investigation into the harmful impacts of cumulative exposure to multiple chemicals, precautionary regulations which ensure chemical disclosure and transparency for the public, and additional monitoring, health evaluation and site remediation to protect people already affected by oil and gas production.

Deb Thomas, Director of ShaleTest and a Wyoming resident, 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. Natural gas is not a clean or safe source of energy."

A full copy of the report, research methods and supporting materials can be found here: http://comingcleaninc.org/wind-blows


To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/toxic-chemicals-linked-to-natural-gas-operations-detected-in-the-bodies-of-nearby-residents-300288821.html

SOURCE Coming Clean

Source: PR Newswire (June 22, 2016 - 2:17 PM EDT)

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