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How the oil and gas industry affects our air

Factsheet text:

Individuals, families, and communities need to be aware of:

  • Oil & gas development’s impacts on human health
  • The oil and gas industry’s limited accountability for those impacts

Colorado is experiencing a huge oil and gas development boom that is expected to continue for years

Contaminants associated with oil and gas development are present in the air and water in many of our communities where development is occurring. These contaminants are known to cause harm to human health, including cancer, respiratory diseases, reproductive problems, and other serious ill- nesses.

Without proper public oversight, including enforcement of pertinent stat- utes and rules, toxic substances – including benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylenes, and formaldehyde – can be released from active wells and other oil and gas production facilities.

In addition to the health risks from inhaling these pollutants, they and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are transformed into ground-level ozone (commonly referred to as smog), which brings additional serious health risks.

Children and the elderly are the most susceptible

Our most vulnerable populations are our children and our elderly. Because children’s bodies are still developing, they are more susceptible to contami- nant exposure and subsequent pulmonary, cardio and cancer risks are higher than in adults. The elderly often times do not have the resilience to fight off the effects of these pollutants and become more susceptible to life-threaten- ing disorders. 

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