A University of Colorado faculty member who published findings last spring showing that air pollution caused by hydraulic fracturing may contribute to health problems for those living nearby says she has not experienced any blowback from the oil/gas industry as a result of her research.
Lisa McKenzie, a research associate at the Colorado School of Public Health on CU’s Anschutz Medical Campus, was the lead author of a paper published by Science of the Total Environment in May. The research, which involved examining three years of data, found potentially toxic petroleum hydrocarbons in the air near wells in Garfield County, including ethylbenzene, toluene, xylene and benzene, which the Environmental Protection Agency has identified as a known carcinogen.
The study found elevated risks of cancer and non-cancer health problems (like eye irritation, headaches, sore throat and difficulty breathing) among people living within a half-mile of wells. And the greatest impact was seen during the well completion period, when fracking occurs.
The research was funded by Garfield County in an effort to measure health risks associated with wells around the community of Battlement Mesa.
Despite the well-publicized report — and her subsequent testimony about her research before a congressional panel in May — McKenzie says she has felt no pressure from her superiors or the oil/gas industry.
“From the University of Colorado, I’ve received no pressure at all,” she told BW. “And the industry also has not contacted us at all, or me directly.”
McKenzie added that to her knowledge, no one at the school has heard from oil/gas companies either.
“I’ve had no pressure, and no one above me has pressured me or spoken to me about it,” she explains. “What I don’t know is if there’s been any discussions at a higher level, and they don’t think they need to worry me about it.”
She says the only feedback she’s heard has been through media reports. MORE …