FORTWORTH - While preliminary test results have revealed that the overall air quality in Fort Worth is acceptable when it comes to short-term health, two natural drilling sites did show irregular emissions, city council members were told Tuesday.

The Fort Worth City Council asked for the study in an effort to find out if there is a greater threat of breathing in more cancer-causing toxins around the drilling sites.

Michael Gange, assistant director of the Fort Worth Public Works Department, said it's too early to say if the irregularities pose a health threat, but did suggest the sites are not in compliance with their current air quality permits and may need more scrutiny.

Those two sites are being discussed with TCEQ regarding future air permitting and how to address those sites, he said. We're also working with the operator and we are revisiting those two sites during the current testing.

Separately, the study looked at ambient levels at toxins at seven sites around the city, finding triple the average amount of cancer-causing benzene in one area north of downtown Fort Worth near high gas drilling activity.

Gange said much more testing must be done at each site before a final report is presented to city council on June 30. The report will include a thorough evaluation of how Fort Worth's natural gas drilling is impacting public health.

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