Members of the ABCAlliance hosted Dr. Tom Kurt last weekend, a respected medical toxicologist, who helped not only us, but also several local elected officials, get a better understanding of the health effects from natural gas drilling and production in our community.
One of the most important things we learned is that for immuno-compromised individuals, there is almost no latency period between exposure to hazardous emissions and the onset of serious illness. Cancer can set in within months. And with some neurotoxins, such as carbon disulfide, the effects are permanent and irreversible.
The Texas Administrative Code says:
No person shall discharge from any source whatsoever one or more air contaminants or combinations thereof, in such concentration and of such duration as are or may tend to be injurious to or to adversely affect human health or welfare, animal life, vegetation, or property, or as to interfere with the normal use and enjoyment of animal life, vegetation, or property.
(Title 30, Part 1, Chapter 101, Subchapter A, Rule 101.4, Environmental Quality – Nuisance)
The law says we’re entitled to a clean environment, but unfortunately, Texas puts the burden on residents to get that code enforced.
An Arlington resident, through careful and thorough documentation, as well as her doctor’s assistance, was able to show that Carrizo’s drilling at UT-Arlington profoundly affected her health, and the state found them in violation of the code — so it has been done.
It is important to document every thing that happens when, where, how long, what was done, have a TCEQ Odor log and make complaints to them. Your doctor needs to know how close you are to drilling and production facilities, as well as be aware of the following guidelines when giving care to you and your family.
CHEMICAL EXPOSURE HISTORY: Accepted Medical Criteria
There is medically recognized criteria available for taking a proper history of a chemical/toxic exposure. These are used to evaluate illness caused by exposures. These criteria include:
1. The relationship in time between the onset of illness and toxic exposures.
2. Improvement of symptoms during times away from exposure (e.g., vacations, etc.).
3. Recurrence or worsening of symptoms after re-exposure.
This basic information requires a more detailed history if the above information suggests potential toxic exposure. Additional information should include a more detailed exposure history, including information on duration and intensity of exposure, how the person worked with or was exposed to the toxin, how absorption into the body could have occurred, and protective measures such as respirators, protective clothing etc. to reduce exposure.
When possible, physicians are encouraged to obtain more detailed exposure history such as safety data sheets, etc. under the Hazard Communication Standard.
While these criteria have long been recognized, they were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association 256: 678-680, 1991. The authors are national experts in occupational disease: Dr. Landrigan and Dr. Baker at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY.
If symptoms increase make sure your physician documents any and all treatments, tests and complaints about drilling and ask your physician for a letter stating such for the TCEQ, be sure it is sent to the attention of TCEQ regional employees Tony Walker and Alyssa Taylor. And again, we urge you to call the TCEQ out for odor complaints, get a Summa canister from them if necessary.
We know there are more people out there impacted — because you have talked to us, but you are afraid to speak up.
The longer you are silent, the greater the potential that more people will suffer.