New data on air pollution from fracking wells in Colorado will be a big help in assessing whether the emissions are harmful to human health, state officials say
By DAN ELLIOTT, Associated Press – June 14, 2016
DENVER (AP) — New data on air pollution from fracking wells in Colorado will be a big help in assessing whether the emissions are harmful to human health, state officials say.
A three-year study released Tuesday measured methane — a greenhouse gas — and ozone-causing compounds that were released from new natural gas wells in western Colorado.
The research, by Colorado State University professor Jeff Col
lett, didn’t measure the emissions’ health effects, but state officials will use the data in computer modeling to assess the risks, said Mike Van Dyke of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
“This study is incredibly useful,” said Van Dyke, chief of environmental epidemiology, occupational health and toxicology for the health department.
The state expects to hire outside researchers by the end of next month to begin modeling the human health risks, using the western Colorado research as well as data from a second study Collett is conducting at wells near the state’s urban Front Range.
The state risk study is expected to be completed in January 2018.
Collett’s study is the first time researchers have been able say with certainty they were measuring pollution only from drilling operations and not from other sources, Van Dyke said.