Thurs., Sept. 5, 2013
Contact: Jenny Davies-Schley, 720-296-9545
Colorado Moms Anxious About Kids’ Health Going Back to School
139 Colorado oil & gas wells are located within 2,000 feet of a school
DENVER – The grassroots network Colorado Moms Know Best – concerned about the effects of air pollution on kids’ health – just uncovered disturbing information showing that many school children are starting school right next to potentially harmful oil and gas operations.
“Kids should be able to go school in a safe place without air pollution making them sick,” said Jaime Travis, Colorado Moms Know Best Head Mom. “Our moms are anxious about oil and gas operations located right next to their kids’ schools – we want our concerns and research to inform the Governor and the Air Quality Control Commission’s upcoming rulemaking on air emissions this fall. We need to put standards on air emissions from oil and gas operations that are next to our kids’ schools and in our communities so it’s as clean and healthy as possible.
The moms researched the proximity of oil and gas wells to schools and found out that:
- Statewide 931 wells are within 1 mile of a school, 801 in the Northern Front Range
- Statewide 139 wells are within 2000 feet of a school, 134 in the Northern Front Range
- Statewide 26 wells are within 1000 feet of a school, 24 in the Northern Front Range
* The list of impacted schools are attached, as well as maps of the schools near oil and gas wells. *
Ozone pollution is created by an interaction between two different sorts of air pollutants, oxides of nitrogen and volatile organic compounds (“VOCs”). Oil and gas development provides a significant source for both of these air contaminants. In fact, regulators in Colorado have identified the oil and gas industry as the biggest source of VOC emissions in the state and compressor engines and drill rigs used at oil and gas facilities as the biggest source of oxides of nitrogen in the Front Range ozone nonattainment area.
Health studies have shown that exposure to high levels of ozone pollution leads to lung problems, difficulty breathing, increased susceptibility to infections and other respiratory ailments, such as asthma attacks, a leading cause of hospital visits especially among children, and even premature deaths.
“When children are exposed to benzene and other air emissions from oil and gas operations, and associated higher levels of ground ozone, they are at increased risk for developing infections and difficulty breathing” said Anthony Gerber, M.D., Ph.D. and Associate Professor of Medicine at National Jewish Health and University of Colorado, Denver. “ Exposure to these emissions could harm kids’ health for a lifetime and should be mitigated.”
Oil and gas development is growing in Colorado – since 2000, statewide drilling for oil and gas has more than doubled and drilling has nearly tripled in the Front Range. With that development there has been an increase in smog inducing air pollution around oil and gas sites now moving in residential areas. These noxious emissions can worsen and even cause asthma, gastrointestinal problems, constant bloody noses and other illnesses. Already one out of 10 children have asthma in Colorado, an even higher rate than in adults because their lungs are still developing.
“All I want is for my kids to be able to go to school and play on the fields and playground without worrying about the air they’re breathing,” said AnnMarie Cleary, a Broomfield mom and supporter of the Colorado Moms Know Best network. “I don’t think it’s too much to ask to have common sense standards to ensure that kids are going to school in a safe place where the air is clean.”
The moms have collected more than 7,500 signatures on a letter to Gov. John Hickenlooper calling for common sense yet innovative standards to control air pollution that require the oil and gas industry to:
- Detect and repair drilling leaks
- Stop natural gas venting
- Use capture technologies on storage tanks
- Disclose chemical emissions
Colorado Moms Know Best is a casual network of moms and friends that are looking out for our children’s health and wellbeing by protecting Colorado’s outdoors and quality of life.