UNT researchers say fracking a contributor to North Texas smog problem



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Posted on April 18, 2014 at 2:33 PM

DENTON — Researchers at the University of North Texas say fracking around the Barnett Shale has not only spurred smog problems, but will continue to worsen air quality with each passing year.

Oil and gas wells in the Barnett Shale are spread out over 5,000 square miles within 24 North Texas counties.

Over the last few years, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has heard many complaints and concerns.

"[It's] corrosive to our lungs, our crops and our buildings and we need to get a handle on this," said Kim Feil, a community activist.

In 2012, the TCEQ responded to concerns by saying a probe spanning several years revealed that none of their ambient monitors in the region revealed any problematic chemicals.

Thursday, a UNT professor told a different story. Dr. Kuruvilla John claims emissions from fracking are harmful to the ozone.

"Individual wells may contribute to very little total, but in accumulative sense, it's a large impact," he said.

UNT graduate students collected more than six million data points from 16 ozone monitors across North Texas. Those points were compared to data over the last 14 years.

What they said they found suggested monitors near oil and gas activity recorded more substantial ozone reduction. That information is something Rep. Lon Burnam fought to bring before the local council of government as they work to bring a new smog-reduction plan for the Dallas-Fort Worth area by next summer.

"Until we start bringing these studies out, a lot of people are going to be in denial that we have a new set of problems to deal with," he said.

Thursday, TCEQ officials say they asked, but hadn't yet receive a copy of the UNT study. When they do, officials say they will evaluate the methodology and conclusions so they can review the work and comment accordingly.