During drilling and fracking activities, volatile organic compounds (VOCs: chemicals such as benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylenes) are released into the environment and have the potential to pollute air and ground water. Many of these chemicals are endocrine disruptors, meaning they impact hormone systems in the body. Additionally, these chemicals are carcinogenic (i.e. cancer causing) and have the potential to cause skin and respiratory irritation, as well as central nervous system problems.
Residents of Erie are currently suffering symptoms such as sinus irritation and burning of the throat due to a strong petroleum odor near the Waste Connections drilling site operated by Crestone Peak Resources. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment plans to send a mobile air quality monitoring lab to the area to test for VOCs. However, frequent and rapid changes in wind patterns can impact what the lab detects, causing us to underestimate the concentrations that people may actually be exposed to.
As a veterinarian who lives near the Waste Connections site, I began working on a pilot study to investigate VOC levels in dogs before the drilling even got underway. Dogs tend to spend more time outdoors in their yards, and are generally home more than their humans, so they may give a more accurate picture of the exposure levels in a given location. The plan is to do monthly urine sample collection for VOC testing throughout the duration of activity at the Waste Connections and Pratt sites – but I need your help with funding. Each sample costs approximately $350 to run. I am working with two other veterinarians, as well as a professor at the University of Missouri to conduct the study.
Colorado politicians and members of the oil and gas industry tell us that it is safe to put these industrial activities within highly populated areas. Yet they have no evidence to support their claims. In truth, no one knows the “safe distance” for how close to homes we should allow drilling and fracking to operate. Help me gather data. I plan to publish the results – no matter what we find.
Anything you can contribute will help. All the money that we raise will be sent to Dr. Lin at the University of Missouri to put toward testing. Thank you!
- Peggy Tibbetts
- Kyle Roth
- Sally Graves
- Jiyeun Rha
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