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Smog from Oil, Gas Facilities Linked to Asthma Attacks for Mass. Kids

A new report projects 4,000 childhood asthma attacks every summer in the Bay State from pollution created by oil and gas facilities. (D. Petrobras/Wikimedia)
A new report projects 4,000 childhood asthma attacks every summer in the Bay State from pollution created by oil and gas facilities. (D. Petrobras/Wikimedia)
September 6, 2016

BOSTON -- A first-of-its-kind analysis of the health impacts in the U.S. from ozone smog pollution caused by the oil and gas industry found that pollution will take a toll on Bay State kids.

The "Gasping for Air" report by the Clean Air Task Force said that even people who live far away from drilling rigs and other oil and gas equipment experience negative health impacts. And according to Sarah Uhl, program director with the organization, Massachusetts children already experience some of the most severe effects, which peak during the summer months.

"Kids there are experiencing more than 4,000 asthma attacks every summer, directly attributable to unnecessary air pollution, I should say, from the oil and gas industry,” Uhl said.

She said she calls it "unnecessary" pollution because the industry can take steps to clean up the leaks that cause it, by stopping the process of venting and flaring natural gas at well sites.

The analysis showed how these emissions contribute to seasonal ozone levels, and quantified the health effects of ozone smog from the industry.

Paul Billings, a senior vice president at the American Lung Association, said he supports new methane rules proposed by the federal government to limit natural gas waste from flaring and leaks.

"Air pollution remains a serious threat to the health of millions of people, and oil and gas extraction is part of the problem,” Billings said. “If EPA takes steps to address regulating the existing sources, we can make tremendous progress towards reducing that burden."

The Clean Air Task Force also created a map that tracks the locations of oil and gas facilities and pollution problems faced by communities. They have made it available online at oilandgasthreatmap.com.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - MA