by Gareth Hughes
Yesterday new research was released by the Colorado School of Public Health in the US linking air pollution from fracking with serious health problems for those who live near wells.
Incredibly dangerous chemicals, such as benzene, ethylbenzene, toluene and xylene were found at worrying levels near the wells in samples that were taken over a three year period. The study found that ‘people who live within a half mile of a fracking well are at a high risk of developing health problems because of the emissions, especially during the well completion period in which fracking fluids and natural gas return to the surface’.
The health problems caused by this air pollution aren’t minor; effects include difficulty breathing, impaired lung function, headaches, numbness of limbs, temporary limb paralysis and even unconsciousness. And then there’s the higher risk of cancer which is caused by exposure to the chemical benzene.
The study emphasises the need for concern and monitoring of health impacts of air pollution from fracking, along with the myriad of other concerns, including water contamination and seismic activity.
Here in Aotearoa, we have a window of opportunity to put a moratorium on fracking before it expands rapidly throughout the country, as has happened in the US. My question to the Government is: Will you sit back and wait until we see our communities suffering from the health impacts from fracking that are listed above? Or will you act responsibly and put an immediate moratorium on fracking until an independent inquiry is undertaken to assess the risk to our health and environment?
How much more evidence do we need that fracking isn’t worth the risks?