FORT WORTH -- Oil and gas industry activity will trigger hundreds of thousands of asthma and acute respiratory attacks in Texas each year unless methane emissions are reduced, according to a study released Wednesday by a national environmental group.
Nearly 145,000 asthma attacks in children and more than 283,000 incidences of adults struggling to breathe would be attributable oil and gas pollution, according to Gasping for Breath, a study co-sponsored by Earthworks and the Clean Air Task Force.
The Fort Worth-Dallas area would be the hardest hit, with about 46,000 children suffering asthma attacks and roughly 94,000 instances of adults suffering serious respiratory ailments, after separating the health impacts from ozone that cannot be linked to the energy industry emissions, the study states.
Nationally, there are more than 750,000 summertime asthma attacks in children under the age of 18 due each year that are caused by smog created by oil and gas pollution, according to the study’s authors.
“Oil and gas has not been subject to air pollution standards in the way that other major polluters have, and there are feasible and cost effective ways to regulate it,” said Lesley Fleischman, the study’s lead author.
Todd Staples, president of the Texas Oil & Gas Association, released a statement later Wednesday in response to the study:
“Groups funded to oppose fracking are threatening our health, not protecting it. The latest ‘report’ from established anti-oil and natural gas groups used misinformed ozone projections and openly ignored advances in technology that are improving air quality. Ozone levels have been trending downward for decades even as oil and natural gas production has increased. Regulators, scholars and international organizations credit fracking and the increased use of natural gas with improving air quality.”