Study: Many Calif. Areas Could Be Exposed to Unhealthy Emissions
Many California communities could be contaminated with unhealthy levels of toxic oil and gas emissions in the air, according to a new study by Earthworks and the Clean Water Fund, InsideClimate News/Sacramento Bee reports.
Details of Study
For the study, researchers took five air samples and surveyed a total of 40 residents in:
- Lost Hills in Kern County; and
- Upper Ojai in Ventura County.
The locations were selected because residents said they had smelled hydrocarbon odors or experienced health issues related to nearby oil-and-gas facility operations.
Overall, the researchers found that contaminants such as methane and toluene could pose health risks to individuals who have been exposed to them for long periods of time.
Survey respondents said they had experienced health problems consistent with oil and gas emissions, including:
- Rashes; and
- Sinus issues.
While the study focused on two communities, the researchers said residents across California also could be subjected to similar emissions and their associated health risks.
According to the study, 14% of California's population lives within a mile of an oil or gas well.
The report noted that "the results of this investigation must be viewed as a snapshot of air emissions," as it was limited in size. However, the report added that it should serve as a "clear warning sign of problems, not as generalizable results."
In the report, researchers suggested that officials conduct an independent study to better understand the effects of oil and gas emissions, particularly in low-income areas.
Researchers also said that the California Department of Public Health should assess potential health risks and take responsibility for the consequences of oil and gas emissions (Hasemyer, InsideClimate News/Sacramento Bee, 2/2).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.