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Air Pollution from coal seam gas fields

Health risks for communities living near coal seam gas fields

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"Father of Fracking"
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History of Fracking
Only a new technology

USA Fracking Stories

A Texan tragedy

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California Lags in Fracking Regulations

All In for California Water

Fracking in Michigan

Fracking in Michigan Potential Impact on Health, Environment, Economy

Hydraulic fracturing of Marcellus Shale

Methane Gas from Marcellus Shale Drilling

Marcellus Shale Gas Economics

Health impacts of Marcellus shale gas drilling

Pennsylvania Fracking

Fracking in Virginia

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Water Pollution from Fracking

Hydraulic Fracturing Poses Substantial Water Pollution Risks

Methane in drinking water wells

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Natural Gas Leaks Discovered in Boston

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Methane leaks make fracking dirty

Fracking effects real estate values

Fracking stimulates earthquakes

Protecting Gas Pipelines From Earthquakes

Gas Pipeline Earthquake - Simulations

America's crumbling pipelines

Averting Pipeline Failures

Dangers to Underground Pipelines

Gas Pipelines Could Serve as Wireless Links

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EPA Releases Update on Ongoing Hydraulic Fracturing Study

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Threats to Biodiversity

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Shale Gas Production

Research into the Fracking Controversy

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Methane in the Atmosphere of Early Earth

Methane Natural Gas Linked to Climate Change

Cutting Methane Pollutants Would Slow Sea Level Rise


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Fracking Shale Gas

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March 7, 2013 - The National Toxics Network is calling on the federal government to take urgent action to protect the publics’ health and the environment in light of new research released today by the Southern Cross University (SCU), which confirms emissions of air pollutants from coal seam gas (CSG) activities.

The study by the Centre for Coastal Biogeochemistry and the School of Environment, Science and Engineering at SCU used atmospheric radon (222Rn) and carbon dioxide concentrations to measure chemical releases to air from the coal seam gas (CSG) fields in Tara, Queensland.

A three fold increase was measured in maximum radon concentration inside the gas field compared to outside.

“These findings support the results of preliminary air testing around Tara which also showed increased levels of air pollutants”.

“The research confirms CSG activities can lead to the release of toxic gases like carbon dioxide, radon and methane, as well as changing the geological structure to allow these gases to escape more easily ” said Dr Mariann Lloyd-Smith, NTN’s Senior Advisor

“Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas with a global warming potential 25 times that of CO2 over a 100-year time horizon. Methane is not directly harmful to human health at low concentrations, but its contribution to greenhouse gases will ultimately be harmful to human health,” said Dr Mariann Lloyd-Smith.

”The detection of these gases also indicates the likelihood that other toxic substances, such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which can be very harmful to human health, are also being released,“ she said.

“There’s been no comprehensive monitoring of air pollutants in the Tara gas fields, yet one-off samples of ambient air taken near Tara homes have detected a range of VOCs, including carcinogens like benzene and persistent pollutants like dichlorodifluoromethane, which has an estimated half-life of 8.4 months in air, meaning that it can travel long distances in air”.

“In preliminary testing, toluene, a neurotoxin was detected in the air around at least eight Tara homes and in the air over a private bore. In the latter, the level (0.33ppm) was simply dismissed as below levels of concern, yet it is well above the ‘Chronic Reference Exposure Limits’ used in California, Massachusetts and Michigan for long-term exposure”.

“While this sampling is clearly inadequate to assess emissions and air pollution, these preliminary results, supported by evidence from this new emissions study, means that a broad-spectrum, high-periodicity, long-term, monitoring program is warranted and long overdue, “ Dr Lloyd-Smith concluded.

Contact: Dr Mariann Lloyd-Smith PhD (Law) PH: (612) 66815340 / 0413 621557 Skype – mariannls

Reference: Douglas R. Tait, Isaac Santos, Damien Troy Maher, Tyler Jarrod Cyronak, & Rachael Jane Davis

Enrichment of radon and carbon dioxide in the open atmosphere of an Australian coal seam gas field Environ. Sci. Technol.


15th November , 2012 - A recent independent University study of the atmosphere of a coal seam gas field near Tara, Queensland has shown evidence of widespread releases of methane and carbon dioxide concentrations.

Hotspot concentrations of methane were detected within the gas field which were more than 3 times higher than background levels found outside the gas fields. Activities such as drilling and hydraulic fracturing (fracking) can release contaminants into sediments and aquifers which escape into the air.

While methane at these levels in air would be unlikely to cause direct health effects, it is of concern that this may indicate leakage of other chemicals which can affect health at relatively low concentrations” said DEA spokesperson Dr Helen Redmond. “Research from the US has found systematic evidence for methane contamination of drinking water associated with unconventional gas extraction”.2

“Other air contaminants, such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), were not measured as part of this study, but are known from studies overseas to be released from gas fields which are fracked” said Dr Mariann Lloyd-Smith, Senior advisor to National Toxics Network.

A recent study 1 looking at the human health risk assessment of air emissions from unconventional gas extraction published in the journal, Science of the Total Environment, found that residents living closest to gas wells had higher risks for neurological, respiratory and other health effects and higher cancer risks than those living further away.

“National Toxics Network recently undertook preliminary sampling of air and water in the Tara region and found evidence of the release of VOCs at the well-head 24 hours after being hydraulically fractured.

These included known and suspected carcinogens like benzene and bromodichloromethane, as well as a range of other toxic compounds.” said Dr Lloyd-Smith.

A number of Tara residents have been calling on the government for some time to investigate their health complaints. Symptoms reported included headaches, rashes, nausea and vomiting, nose bleeds, eye and throat irritation.

“While the cause of these symptoms have not yet been determined, they show many similarities to symptoms experienced by communities living in gas fields overseas. Hydrocarbon exposure cannot be ruled out as a cause without much more comprehensive investigation” according to Dr Redmond.

“Unconventional gas development poses potentially serious yet unassessed health risks” said Dr Redmond, and “protecting the health and wellbeing of all Australians should be the priority.”
Doctors for the Environment and the National Toxics Network are calling for immediate action to protect the health and safety of local communities with funding of comprehensive transparent environmental testing and health impact assessment.

1 Lisa M. Mckenzie, Roxana Z. Witter, Lee S. Newman and John L. Adgate Human health risk assessment of air emissions from development of unconventional natural gas resources.”

Science of the Total Environment March 21, 2012
2Osborn, SG et al. Methane contamination of drinking water accompanying gas-well drilling and hydraulic fracturing.
Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 2011

Dr Helen Redmond
Doctors for the Environment Australia

Dr Mariann Lloyd-Smith, PhD
NTN Senior Advisor
Skype - mariannls

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