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Texas DSHS Releases Dish Exposure Investigation

Oil and Gas
Posted by WhosPlayin on 2010/5/12 20:00:00 (4476 reads)

Open in new windowOpen in new windowTexas Department of State Health Services today released the report on their investigation of exposures to VOCs by residents of Dish, TX.

The study, which analyzed short-lived metabolites and blood levels of volatile organic compounds, failed to establish that Dish residents had higher levels of VOCs in their blood for a 2 day period this past January. In general, DSHS says exposures were in line with average numbers for the United States. Some residents had elevated levels of benzene, but those were attributed to cigarette smoking.

You can read the study here.

It is important to note that although the press releases went out emphasising that exposures were similar to the U.S. population, and mainstream media will likely parrot that conclusion, this is not any sort of "proof" that there is no additional exposure.

The investigation did have limitations, with were enumerated in the summary:

This investigation did have limitations.

First, VOCs only stay in the body for a short time (several hours); therefore these measurements only reflect ongoing or recent exposures, and not historical exposures.

Second, this was a one time sampling event; thus it could not consider variations in factors such as season, temperature, wind conditions, and natural gas operations.

Third, we could not identify with any degree of certainty a source for all of the exposures.

Fourth, the urinary metabolite AMCA is not completely specific and can form through other metabolic pathways.

Lastly, it was not possible to determine potential health risks based on the levels found in the blood.
(Emphasis and whitespace ours)

It is important to keep the focus on reducing emissions, rather than trying to prove the extent to which they are harmful. TCEQ has some proposed new rules that may be passed in November for implementation in January. We hope these new rules will help improve the air quality for future oil and gas activities, but it could be years before the standards come into effect for existing facilities like the Dish compressors and wells.

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