Location of DISH, Texas
DISH, Texas — There's a medical mystery in a Denton County town.
State investigators want to know why half of the citizens tested in DISH have elevated levels of toxins in their blood.
The samples were taken in January by the Texas Department of State Health Services after concerns about natural gas facility emissions were raised.
Twenty-eight residents submitted blood and urine samples.
"My dad would call me up every now and then," said DISH resident Amber Smith. What did he ask her? "'So, have you found out if you're going to die yet?'"
This month, the results came back.
Half of the DISH residents tested had slightly elevated levels of various toxins in their blood.
Amber Smith's test detected three toxins in her urine that — in high enough levels — could cause health problems including kidney damage, cancer, and neurological problems.
"If it's in my body, it's in my childrens' body," Smith said. "How's it going to affect them? It doesn't tell us. Are they going to get cancer?"
None of the residents had unexplained elevated levels of benzene, a cancer-causing toxin that's been the focus of state air testing in the Barnett Shale.
The state tested the blood and urine samples for toxins that have been found in natural gas facility emissions, but those toxins could also come from other sources.
"We're in a very rural area, and the only thing have here besides livestock is a natural gas production facility," said DISH Mayor Calvin Tillman.
Because the toxins break down quickly in the body, the results only give residents an idea of possible exposure in the week or so before the test — not long-term exposure.