Gassed GCM report 2011 San Juan Citizen Alliance and Western Colorado Congress (Garfield County):
"A coalition of environmental and community based organizations in Colorado and New Mexico collected nine air samples that were analyzed by a certified lab. The lab detected a total of 22 toxic chemicals in the air samples, including four known carcinogens, as well as toxins known to damage the nervous system and respiratory irritants. The chemicals detected ranged from 3 to 3,000 times higher than what is considered safe by state and federal agencies. Sampling was conducted in the San Juan Basin area of Colorado and New Mexico, as well as Garfield County in western Colorado."
"Through the course of this pilot study, residents, armed with their own air monitors, documented a potent mix of chemicals in nine air samples from different locations. The sites in this program are all natural gas production and processing sites, although production of oil presents similar risks."
"A total of 22 toxic chemicals were detected in the nine air samples, including four known carcinogens, toxins known to damage the nervous system, and respiratory irritants. The levels detected were in many cases significantly higher than what is considered safe by state and federal agencies. The levels of chemicals, including benzene and acrylonitrile, ranged from three to 3,000 times higher than levels established to estimate increased risk of serious health effects and cancer based on long-term exposure."
"At least two cancer-causing chemicals, acrylonitrile and methylene chloride, were detected at high levels near natural gas operations. Neither chemical is associated with natural gas or oil deposits, but both seem to be associated with the use of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) products. Resins acrylonitrile, 1, 3 butadiene and styrene (ABS) are suspected to be present in fracking additives."
"Chemicals such as benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene (BTEX) are known to be present around natural gas development sites, both from the gas deposits as well as chemical additives. Our independent testing found significantly high amounts of these toxic gases downwind of various sites. Health effects from BTEX include dizziness and confusion, eye, nose and throat irritation, birth defects, kidney, liver, and neurological damage, and cancer. For example, benzene is known to cause leukemia.
Hydrogen sulfide was also found in the Bucket tests, warning signs for the gas are often visible near well pads. Long-term exposure to hydrogen sulfide is associated with an elevated incidence of respiratory infections, irritation of the eye, nose and throat, coughing, breathlessness, nausea, headache, and mental health impacts, including depression. It is recommended, that workers handling hydrogen sulfide be equipped with hydrogen sulfide monitors, respirators, and rescue packs for protection in the event of elevated exposure; the public has no such protection."
This is the site I hope to visit to test the hydrogen sulfide sensor--the family has already used ExtrAct's WellWatch website to record their case (http://wellwatch.org/wiki/05-045-19728_complaint_0002) :
"One Silt Mesa family with two young sons had three natural gas drill rigs surrounding its property, each with ongoing flaring. The nearest flare stack was less than one-half a mile from their home. Family members reported pungent odors of rotten eggs followed by severe headaches, nosebleeds and rashes. The nosebleeds were persistent and heavy, much different than the average nose bleed. The mother described it as “almost like hemorrhaging.” The youngest son developed a full body rash, which prompted a doctor visit. Upon examination, the doctor immediately told the Silt Mesa family to evacuate their home. Although the family was forced to vacate their home because of nearby industrial activity, the state did not issue any violations. According to Colorado rules, Silt Mesa is not a High Density area, therefore, drilling for natural gas in the area does not warrant additional safety precautions.
Today, the Silt Mesa family has left their home and put it up for sale. An air sample taken on January 15, 2011, on their property, contained levels of hydrogen sulfide more than 185 times above the long term level set by the U.S. EPA (2 µg/m3) to estimate increased risk of serious health effects. This Silt Mesa family, as well as the Battlement Mesa residents, call frequently to report odor complaints and other incidents of non-compliance. They call the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, the Garfield County Oil and Gas Department, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, and occasionally, the Environmental Protection Agency. The communities have seen worse local air quality since natural gas development markedly increased in Garfield County, although limited air monitoring is conducted by local and state authorities."
Process the community has been using:
"GCM trained members of the Western Colorado Congress, the San Juan Citizens Alliance, and other community members to keep a record of pollution incidents. These records include: the location, nature, and duration of the incident; the wind direction, health effects or property damage; and how the incident was addressed – by a call to the regulatory agency or the company suspected or known to be the source of the pollution, or informative calls to other neighbors. Pollution incident records are referred to as “pollution logs.” Pollution logs filled out by community members ensure that a record is maintained beyond regular agency business hours. Community members are also encouraged to take pictures and/or use a video camcorder to catch a visual image of the pollution."
"GCM was given a local tour by community members in areas near Durango, Colorado; Battlement/Silt Mesas, Colorado; and Aztec, New Mexico in late July, 2010. During the training, GCM provided a day-long classroom training, including background on pollution and environmental health, how to document pollution incidents, hands on training and how to use monitoring equipment. We worked with the local community members to co-design an environmental sampling plan. The training and plans emphasize standard scientific methods. Community members learn how the monitoring equipment works, the best time to use it, and the appropriate paperwork to fill out before shipping a sample to the lab. The Bucket Brigade’s work is strengthened by following stringent Quality Assurance/Quality Control (QA/QC) protocols and the use of EPA approved labs."
"The lab analysis is conducted by Columbia Analytical Services in Simi Valley, California. The lab utilizes EPA method TO-15 and ASTM D 5504-08 method for sample analysis. The TO-15 analysis includes a spectrum of more than 70 volatile organic compounds and the ASTM D 5504-08 method is used to test for 20 sulfur compounds. Once the community members are trained on the equipment, the buckets are kept at various locations in the community – selected based on the location of odors and health symptoms that have been experienced and reported. When an odor incident occurs, Bucket Brigade members join together to bring a bucket to the site of the odor incident and take a sample of the air at the time of the odor."
What they found:
"The most significant results: • Benzene, a known carcinogen, was found at high concentrations in four air samples at levels between 6.3 and 47 µg/m3. These levels are 48.5 to 800 times higher than the level set by the US EPA of 0.13 µg/m3 to estimate increased cancer risk from long-term exposure.17 Benzene can also cause serious non-cancer health effects which can damage the blood and nervous system Levels of benzene in one of the nine samples, collected on January 7, 2011 near the Sunnyside Elementary School, Durango, Colorado, exceeded the level set by the U.S. EPA for benzene (30 µg/m3) to estimate increased risk of non-cancer health effects."
"• Acrylonitrile, a human carcinogen, was found in five samples at levels between 7.9 and 30 µg/m3. These levels are 790 to 3000 times above the U.S. EPA level of 0.01 µg/m3, set to estimate an increased risk of cancer from long term exposure. All of these levels correspond to what EPA would consider an “unacceptable cancer risk” in that long-term exposure is associated with a cancer risk of greater than 100 in a million.18 Acrylonitrile is also a respiratory irritant, causing degeneration and inflammation of nasal epithelium. Levels of acrylonitrile in the five samples exceeded the level set by U.S. EPA for risk of increased non-cancer health effects from long term exposure (2 µg/m3) by 3 to 15 times.19"
"• Methylene chloride, a human carcinogen, was found in five samples at levels between 7.9 and 17 µg/m3. These levels are 3 to 8 times higher than the level set by the U.S. EPA (2.0 µg/m3.) to estimate an increased risk of cancer from long-term exposure.?
• Ethylbenzene, a human carcinogen, was found in five samples at levels between 5.1 to 22 µg/m3. These levels are 12 to 55 times higher than the level set by the US EPA (0.4µg/m3) to estimate increased cancer risk cancer from long-term exposure.
• Xylene, were found at a level of 100 and 154 µg/m3. These levels exceed the U.S. EPA’s level for estimating increased non-cancer health risks of 100 µg/m3.
• Hydrogen sulfide was found in one sample at 370 µg/m3 which is more than 185 times above the long term level set by the U.S. EPA (2 µg/m3) to estimate increased risk of serious health effects. Long-term exposure to hydrogen sulfide is associated with an elevated incidence of respiratory infections, irritation of the eye and nose, cough, breathlessness, nausea, headache, and mental symptoms, including depression. The World Health Organization’s Guideline Value for exposure to hydrogen sulfide is 7 µg/m3 over a 30-minute period.