Samples collected by citizens participating in a community science study found that their area of residence—a region laying in close proximity to shale gas wells— recorded high levels of benzene, hydrogen sulfide, and formaldehyde. Although based off a small sample, such results are not uncommon.
Instead, a study conducted in 2014 took 35 "grab air" samples from 11 sites across 5 states.
People living within these areas were asked to collect these samples when they were feeling unwell or knew that heavy activity was occurring. The researchers also monitored for formaldehyde in 41 “passive” tests.
In 16 of the grab samples and 14 of the passive tests, lab analysts found hazardous chemicals at concentrations exceeding official minimum risk levels. These included benzene and formaldehyde, which raise the risk of cancer, and hydrogen sulfide, which causes eye and respiratory tract irritation, fatigue, loss of appetite, headache, irritability, poor memory and dizziness. “We explored air quality at a previously neglected scale near a range of unconventional oil and gas development and production sites that are the focus of community concern,” said lead researcher at the University at Albany, David Carpenter.
He stressed that the study highlights the “worst-case concentration” of these substances, not the average exposure.
Not only have the results of these studies been replicated numerous times and relentlessly supported by citizens who are forced to wear respirators within their homes, but fracking companies within Colorado have also admitted to such conditions being the reality for many. The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), a group that claims fracking can be done safely, helped create new regulations to prevent air pollution from worsening in the Rocky Mountain region.