Gas Drilling in Denton County: Health Concerns

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Over the next few weeks, we intend to discuss the issue of natural gas drilling in Denton County.  This entry contains many of the basics about the public health concerns regarding this subject.

In North Texas, we live on top of the Barnett Shale, where oil and natural gas companies want to drill.  This means we must find new ways to have both economic development and a healthy population.

We have seen a rapid increase in the use of hydraulic fracturing, also known as “fracking,” which uses sand, water and a cocktail of chemicals to extract natural gas from the shale rock beneath the ground surface.  This process, along with other drilling methods, can pollute the air and water in the surrounding area and may cause health problems, especially to people sensitive to pollutants and irritants.

Here’s an example of a fracking gas well in Lewisville:

(Video courtesy

According to the Texas Railroad Commission, 3,014 natural gas wells are located in Denton County as of September 2011.  The Chemical Disclosure Registry shows that chemicals used in Denton County wells for frackinginclude benzene, methanol, and hydrochloric acid.

But it’s what we don’t know about fracking that really concerns us.  Across the nation and here in Denton County, science has not been able to keep up with the questions that arise as fracking continues.

These companies often do not support health research.  Long-term, population-based epidemiological studies are essential to understanding this process, but they are difficult to do and fund.  At a minimum, researchers need to know when symptoms begin, how prevalent they are, how long they last, and how they correlate to emissions from drilling sites.

The human health effects of these chemicals can include asthma, cancer, nerve and organ damage, skin rashes and eruptions, miscarriages and birth defects, fatigue, nosebleeds, headaches, and nausea.  The animal population also experiences negative health changes.

What you can do:

  1. Educate yourself about these issues. We have listed some resources below.
  2. If you are experiencing health problems, seek medical attention and write the problems down, including dates,  to monitor your health over time.
  3. Contact all of the people who hold public office in your town and in Denton county, Austin, and Washington D.C.  Tell them you want to know what is in the air you breathe and the water you drink.  Demand honesty, accountability, and positive action from them.
  4. Find out what public health officials are doing about these problems.
  5. Communicate your concerns to others in your community and write to your newspapers.
  6. Demand that economics and optimal health of the public go hand-in-hand.

More resources for on the subject:

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  1. Lhankey says:

    I live in Denton, 5 miles from Dish, and the air is making me sick. I get head aches, watery eyes, fatigue, and nausea. Please do everything you can to take the  noxious industry from fracking in our area.

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