Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Question: Does the first TCEQ first study results represent the whole picture?

The TCEQ released some results from their first air quality study yesterday. This study was conducted in Fort Worth ONLY. TCEQ tested 127 natural gas production sites out of 1600. Not even 10%. So it is interesting that the TCEQ can claim "No Cause for Concern".

The Star Telegram reported that the tests were a one day snapshot and admitted that previous tests showed high levels of hazardous chemicals being released. The tests were done in other areas of the Barnett Shale in North Texas. Here were their findings.

DISH 540 ppb.
Decatur 15,000 ppb.
Weatherford 24 ppb
Springtown 93 ppb.
Justin 30 ppb.
Cleburne 5.4 ppb.
The average benzene level is .2 ppb in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Texas Commission on Environmental Quality toxicologist Dr. Mike Honeycutt had this to say about the results from the test site in Decatur:
"That would be equivalent to opening up a can of gasoline and holding it up under your nose"

This was brought to our attention after posting this article. Here is what the TCEQ has on their website about the Dish, Tx study done my Wolf Eagle Environmental Engineers and Consultants.
The highest potential one-hour maximum benzene concentration is below the health effects level observed in short-term animal and human studies; however, it is possible that adverse health effects could occur from exposure to this concentration. It was not possible to determine if residents were exposed to this concentration of benzene based on the information provided.

The TCEQ’s Toxicology Division is concerned that the monitored concentrations of benzene at several of the sampling locations could pose a long-term health risk to residents in the area if the concentrations are representative of normal and prolonged ambient conditions.

Several monitored and potential one-hour maximum concentrations of target compounds and tentatively identified compounds could have resulted in odorous conditions. Persistent or recurrent exposure to levels that significantly exceed the odor threshold may cause odor-related effects such as headache and nausea. This is consistent with citizen reports of odors in the area.

The TCEQ’s Toxicology Division strongly recommends additional sampling in the area and possibly long term (at least one year) monitoring for VOC, NOx, ozone, including an Automatic Gas Chromatograph (AutoGC) monitoring station, to fully evaluate the long term ambient concentrations.

The TCEQ will continue to test other sites in North Texas and also test in warmer weather which can make a big difference in toxin levels in the air.

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