CHC Publishes First Guidebook On Community-based Air Quality Testing

Oil and gas development near homes, schools, farms, watersheds, or CHC_AirSamplingWhitePaper_coverpristine outdoor recreational sites is a frightening prospect to many communities. Even more unsettling for long-time residents and visitors is the risk that these communities will be turned into industrial zones. Communities are fighting back; they are fighting irresponsible oil and gas development with grassroots power—by mobilizing the grassroots through public comments, letters to the Editor, web sites, and lawsuits.

Air pollution from chemicals associated with oil and gas development causes such health effects as burning eyes, dizziness, and nausea, as well as potential development of chronic diseases including damage to cardiovascular or endocrine systems. To prove that such damages are caused by oil and gas operators, and to counter industry and government arguments that such development does not unduly harm people and the environment, evidence and data are needed.

When it comes to air pollution, who is responsible for testing air quality? The conventional wisdom is such that it is or should be the responsibility of government, and the responsibility of polluters. Government agencies are good at issuing standards and setting thresholds with which polluters need to comply, but generally do not conduct the testing. Polluters are good at minimizing their costs by narrowing their compliance to the bare minimum. The public tends to believe that air quality testing is expensive and complicated and therefore the domain of either government agencies, polluters, or scientists and academics.

CHC asked a different question. We asked who is responsible for safeguarding community health from irresponsible oil and gas development, and what role does air quality testing play?

The answer is, we are! CHC partnered with TEDX, The Endocrine Disruption Exchange, to conduct a community-based air quality sampling study. CHC conducted one of the most comprehensive test of chemicals associated with oil and gas development. We tested for a total of 74 chemicals known to have adverse impacts on human health. This is quite an accomplishment for a grassroots nonprofit. We are proud to report that of the 44 chemicals detected they were all below EPA thresholds.

How Oil & Gas Impacted Communities Can Test Air Quality On A Small Budget: A Step-By-Step Guidebook Based On The North Fork Valley Air Sampling Program highlights the results of our study, but more importantly provides community nonprofits with a step-by-step guide to implementing such a program.

  1. How to set up an air sampling program
  2. How to interpret and communicate the results
  3. How to raise money for the study
  4. How to set up periodic monitoring post-baseline

Read the report here.

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