Eagle Ford Inhalation Dangers

Eagle Ford Inhalation Dangers: Workers Not the Only People Worried about Air Safety

For workers on well sites, platforms, transportation facilities, and other locations supporting oil and gas production, the need to take precautions to avoid inhaling dangerous and deadly fumes is well known.  Many workers are required to wear air monitors that alert them if deadly or dangerous gases are released around them.  The focus on this safety precaution is well founded because exposure to certain gasses, like hydrogen sulfide, can be deadly. Even in small doses, chemicals like hydrogen sulfide can permanently injure employees.  Other inhalants such as benzene and silica can cause serious long term, debilitating and sometimes deadly illnesses when exposure is in large amounts or over a long period of time.

However, what about the land owners and residents who live near one of these facilities?  Should children playing in a playground wear a monitor?  What type of information is available regarding downwind exposure?  All of these are questions that do not presently have readily available answers.  The Eagle Ford Shale Injury Lawyer at Hill Law Firm hear these questions quite often.

Experts who research the issue of fracking are increasingly worried about the possibility that the practice may release considerable amounts of potentially harmful contaminants into the air. Among the chemicals that worry them most are what they call volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as benzene, and methane.

The researchers’ concern seems to run contrary to the oil and gas industry’s contention that there is little or no threat to public health caused by air contamination that may be caused by fracking. Given that Texas legislators and regulators haven’t touched the issue, they seem to agree with the oil and gas industry on this.

Yet, the Colorado School of Public Health published a study last year suggesting that air quality within a one mile radius of fracked wells was creating higher risks for cancer and other health problems. The researchers noted that the air in these areas contained elevated benzene and other chemical levels, which isn’t just a danger to workers; it can also cause passersby to suffer headaches, sore throats and irritated eyes, as well as labored breathing.

The same researchers did a follow-up study, published this year, in which they found samples of chemicals known to cause neurological problems in the air around fracking sites. These included several “non-methane hydrocarbons.”

Adding to the dirty air problem are other studies that have popped up in recent years indicating that the alleged “green” benefits of natural gas – like that it burns twice as “clean” as coal, may not be true at all.  At least one study suggests that shale gas may actually emit 20 percent more greenhouse gases than coal during its lifecycle.

While oil and gas industry groups have tried to discredit these studies, researchers’ findings persist, and this should concern people who live around fracking sites, including those living in the Eagle Ford. Depending on the well, fracking can cause a release of a combination of oil, gas, or condensate. While companies can store and/or ship the gases for treatment,  that can only occur if the company thinks it’s worth the hassle, and if the pipeline infrastructure in place can support it. Often, companies simply obtain a permit from the state that allows them to burn, or “flare”, the gases.

There are numerous stories about people who are forced to struggle with asthma, migraines, and other health conditions that weren’t present before the drilling.  The consequences of air pollution in the Eagle Ford Shale Formation are not completely known at this time.  As the drilling continues and more data becomes available, either through funded studies or epidemiological studies of residents in and around the Eagle Ford, the true consequences, or lack thereof, will become known.

The Texas Eagle Ford Shale Injury Lawyer at Hill Law Firm will continue to monitor the available data regarding Eagle Ford inhalation dangers to innocent people in the Eagle Ford Shale Formation.  If you have been injured by activities in the Eagle Ford Shale Formation, contact Hill Law Firm today.

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