TEDx Review of Health Impacts from Oil and Gas in Colorado

Summary Conclusions

“The current body of scientific evidence indicates that people are at risk for health effects from UOG. It is likely that risk is underestimated, given that these studies do not account for all possible chemical interactions, vulnerabilities of sensitive populations (e.g. infants), or outcomes that may arise long after initial exposures. Amplifying this risk is the fact that in many areas, UOG is now being conducted in close proximity to large populations, bringing it closer to more people in their homes, schools, hospitals, and businesses. A recent study demonstrated that in the US alone, 17.6 million people live within 1,600 m (∼1 mi) of at least one active oil and/or gas well , including at least 6% of the Colorado population . Efforts to find uses for UOG wastewater, such as dust suppression or deicing of roads, similarly threatens to expose a greater number of people to the hazards of UOG.

“Further, the scale of UOG operations is growing, posing threats to even more people. As the industry has evolved, the number of wells per unit area has increased, with up to 50 horizontal wellbores that can now extend two miles in any direction. These large capacity well pads require more chemicals, water, sand, and truck trips, and produce more waste. Compared to conventional wells, this can be as much as 50 times more water and associated fracking chemicals – up to 20 million gallons per well. Thousands of tons of sand must be mined and transported to the pad, and millions of gallons of hazardous wastewater must be transported off the pad, stored, and disposed. Industrial activity on the well pad now lasts for months or years, leading to increased air pollution from diesel and truck engines. Larger scale operations mean higher risk of spills, water contamination, air pollution, truck hazards, etc.

“Due to these concerns, states and localities across the country are asking what is a safe distance for UOG in relation to human activity. The answer is ultimately a question of how much risk one is willing to accept. As of yet, there is no scientific basis for a gradient of safe distances. Significant health effects have been demonstrated at distances up to 3,280 feet (SEE citations within paper linked below) . In a review published in 2016, Haley et al. concluded that even the most protective setbacks, up to 1500 feet among the three states evaluated (PA, TX and CO), are not sufficient . Unfortunately, it could be decades before we have conclusive evidence of how close is too close. Meanwhile, the health and well-being of entire communities continues to be threatened. In the interest of the people of the state of Colorado, and as a model for the nation, we urge you to make the most health protective decisions possible.”


Read the entire here letter:

TEDX Colorado Comment Letter 2019_10_03 (1)


The Endocrine Disruption Exchange (TEDX) is a US 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to disseminating scientific evidence on the health and environmental effects of exposure to chemicals that interfere with hormone (endocrine) action, otherwise known as endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs). A major concern with endocrine disruptors is that they are associated with adverse health effects at very low concentrations, particularly when exposure occurs prenatally or in early childhood.