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GOVERNMENT MUST ACT ON AIR POLLUTION
FROM CSG FIELDS
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
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
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
“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
email@example.com 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.
DOCTORS AND COMMUNITY GROUPS SAY NEW EVIDENCE ON AIR
POLLUTION FROM COAL SEAM GAS MINING MEANS BETTER HEALTH
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
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
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
“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
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,
2Osborn, SG et al. Methane contamination of drinking water accompanying gas-well
drilling and hydraulic fracturing.
Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 2011
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Dr Helen Redmond
Doctors for the Environment
Dr Mariann Lloyd-Smith, PhD
NTN Senior Advisor
Skype - mariannls
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