|University of Colorado at Boulder|
Recent technological advances in directional drilling and hydraulic fracturing have increased oil and gas operations in populated areas. As of 2013, 15 million people in the United States live within a mile of a well drilled since the year 2000 (Russell Gold “Energy Boom Puts Wells in America’s Backyards”, The Wall Street Journal 2013). As with any industrial activity, upstream oil and gas operations have many hazards, which may negatively impact the health of industry workers and nearby communities.
The Colorado School of Public Health, University of Colorado and the Getches-Wilkinson Center for Natural Resources, Energy, and the Environment developed this public health page with funds from the Research Partnership to Secure Energy for America’s (RPSEA) Environmental Friendly Drilling (EFD) Program. This page highlights potential public health effects of upstream oil and gas development. It also summarizes best management practices (BMPs) and innovative technologies that have the potential to minimize negative health effects and maximize societal benefits associated with oil and natural gas development. Field testing and consistent monitoring of BMPs and innovative technologies may be necessary to ensure that they are operating as intended and truly minimizing hazards. This point is illustrated by the recent discovery of unintended volatile organic compound emissions from tanks equipped with vapor control systems (http://www2.epa.gov/enforcement/noble-energy-inc-settlement). Currently, there are more than 250 BMPs related to pubic health in our searchable database. For information on the laws intended to protect public health, please see the Law and Policy pages and the LawAtlas comparative law database.
Last substantive additions to Public Health pages: 07/02/2018