Community Group Launches Cutting-Edge Project to Test Air Quality for Fracking Chemicals
Citizens for a Healthy Community (CHC) announced yesterday that it is launching a cutting-edge air quality sampling project. The project is designed to establish an air quality baseline for the Delta County region in Colorado by testing for toxic chemicals associated with natural gas drilling. Formed in 2009 by a group of concerned residents, CHC's mission is to protect people and their environment from irresponsible oil and gas development in the Delta County region.
Local residents will carry backpacks containing air-sampling devices to collect data over 24-hour periods to determine actual human exposure. CHC is beginning to work with local residents to identify sampling locations so that the first round of sampling can begin in September.
Three samples will be collected at the same time at different locations as one collection set. Two sets will be collected in a month during four months over the course of one-year, in order to account for changes in the seasons.
The project was developed with input from scientists at The Endocrine Disruption Exchange (TEDX). This cutting edge approach to conducting an air baseline project uses backpack air sampling instead of a stationary sampling location. This project will collect air samples to identify if an individual has been exposed to chemicals in the air.
While drilling is relatively minimal in the Delta County region at this time, it is important to establish a baseline to determine the current levels of chemicals associated with drilling prior to any further gas and oil development, especially given the unique wind patterns in the area. Also, many traditional air sampling projects overlook certain chemicals that can cause serious health effects at very low levels, which sometimes cannot be seen or smelled. CHC will test for these chemicals, called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), in sampling. The American Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry says it is well “established” that PAHs are carcinogenic, and have been linked to infertility, immune disorders and fish mutation.
Understanding personal exposure to chemicals is important because of the health effects of certain chemicals used in, or released by, drilling and fracking. TEDX has outlined the risks in their report, Chemicals in Natural Gas Operations: Health Effects Summary. Other health effects include harm to the brain and the endocrine and nervous systems, organ damage, and cancer and other “symptoms such as burning eyes, rashes, coughs, sore throats, asthma-like effects, nausea, vomiting, headaches, dizziness, tremors and convulsions.”
“It’s what we can’t see or smell—chemicals in the air that come from drilling—that could be harming the health of local families,” said Jim Ramey, director of CHC. “Our air sampling project could serve as a model for other communities across the country who are fighting to protect their health and environment from runaway drilling and fracking.”
Concerns in other gas-patch communities have informed the design of this project. For example, at the recent rulemakings of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, commissioners heard from numerous Garfield County and Front Range residents who have experienced health effects that they believe were caused by airborne pollution sourced from drilling. State officials frequently claim that Colorado has the strongest regulations for oil and gas in the nation, but people are still getting sick when drill rigs move in.
“Citizen science is critical to holding the drilling industry and government responsible,” said Weston Wilson, retired from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and currently with Be the Change - USA. “Very few communities have the opportunity to establish their air quality baseline before large scale drilling and fracking begin.”
Currently, drilling in the Delta County region is limited to several wells per year. But, the community is facing numerous proposals that could result in hundreds of new wells in the area.
Visit EcoWatch’s FRACKING page for more related news on this topic.
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Jean-Marc Neveu and Olivier Civil never expected to find themselves battling against disposable mask pollution.
When they founded their recycling start-up Plaxtil in 2017, it was textile waste they set their sights on. The project developed a process that turned fabrics into a new recyclable material they describe as "ecological plastic."
Mounting Piles of Waste<p>It is not only the streets of Chatellerault where pandemic pollution is piling-up, but also the world's beaches and oceans. Once there, they can take up to 450 years to degrade and disappear.</p><p>Esther Röling, co-organizer of the annual Adventure Clean Up Challenge held on Hong Kong Island, has seen this waste firsthand. In October the sports challenge pitted teams against one another in a competition to remove trash from 13 hard-to-reach coastal areas around the city.</p><p>They find tons of both disposable and reusable masks, said Röling. "You wonder how it ended up there. Was it just thrown on the ground? Or was it in a garbage bag that broke open?"</p><p>Almost 10,000 kilometers away in Antibes on the sunny French Riviera, it's a similar picture. For the past few months, divers and clean-up volunteers working with an ocean clean-up non-profit called Operation Mer Propre have been collecting an increasing number of masks found on land and in the sea.</p><p>"Since the beginning of the lockdown when we started to count, we've reached 800, 900, [and now in total] 1000 masks," said co-founder Joko Peltier. </p><p>According to <a href="https://unctad.org/news/growing-plastic-pollution-wake-covid-19-how-trade-policy-can-help" target="_blank">UN estimates</a>, up to 75% of all coronavirus-related plastic could end up as waste in oceans and landfills.</p>
The Limits of Recycling<p>Yet not all are convinced the recycling of this waste is possible on a global scale. </p><p>"What those citizen groups are doing is really beneficial but once they collect it, it should just go to a landfill or an incinerator. They shouldn't necessarily expect it to get recycled," said Jonathan Krones, an industrial ecologist and visiting assistant professor of environmental studies at Boston College.</p><p>That's because mask recycling programs like Plaxtil are few and far between and most don't have the benefit of a readily adaptable production process. </p><p>Even in countries with solid recycling infrastructure, he says, the system is designed to separate out specific types of waste like bottles or cardboard.</p><p>"I imagine that it would be technically feasible to develop a separation process to filter out masks, but there simply aren't enough of them to make that economical," he said.</p><p>Collection is a big hurdle, he adds. Since each mask only weighs a fraction of a gram and they're scattered on roads or mixed with other trash, it is difficult and costly. </p><p>"You need a lot of raw material of the right quality to make investing in the recycling technology and the recycling system worthwhile," he said.<span></span><br></p>
Hemp, Sugar Cane and Sustainable Alternatives<p>Some projects are instead addressing the material used to make masks.</p><p>French company Geochanvre have created a mask made primarily from hemp, while in Australia, researchers at the Queensland University of Technology are experimenting with a disposable product made from agricultural waste. </p><p>Biodegradable options are exciting alternatives to reduce the fossil fuels needed for the creation of plastic-based masks, said Krones, but they don't absolve the wearer from the responsibility of what happens afterwards. </p><p>Bio-based masks often need their own composing solutions, he explains, because in landfill they can produce high amounts of the greenhouse gas methane when anaerobic bacteria feeds on the organic material. Methane is known to be significantly more potent than carbon dioxide.</p><p>"I think as long as we have in our mind that we want to have disposability, we're going to have to wrestle with a variety of different sorts of environmental tradeoffs," he said, adding that reusable, fabric masks are the best option available to most people.</p><p>Precimask is developing a clear face covering with an optional visor made from hard plastic, designed to be long-lasting.<br></p><p>Air enters either side of the cheeks through a technology normally found in pool filters and car exhaust systems, said company spokeswoman Juliette Chambet.</p><p>"We wanted to make ceramic-based filters that would be washable and cleanable, which would allow them to be reused as many times as desired without having to buy a new consumable or produce waste," she said. </p><p>Ultimately, encouraging mask wearers to think about the entire lifecycle of a mask is key, explains Neveu. </p><p>"We want people who put on the masks to realize that they are also responsible for the waste, he said. "It's not inevitable that this [pandemic] will become an environmental catastrophe.</p><p><em>Reposted with permission from </em><em><a href="https://www.dw.com/en/covid-19-recycling-pollution-trash-pandemic/a-55707817" target="_blank">Deutsche Welle</a>.</em><a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/r/entryeditor/2649032193#/" target="_self"></a></p>
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