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Buckle up, environmentalists, as we delve into an alarming trend in the United States, where oil and gas production levels are soaring, despite global shifts towards cleaner energy. While we’re all concerned about the climate impacts of fossil fuels, this surge in production is also sounding the alarm bells for public health experts.
A pioneering study led by the Boston University School of Public Health, the University of North Carolina Institute for the Environment, PSE Healthy Energy, and the Environmental Defense Fund has shed light on the health impacts of air Pollution from oil and gas operations. Published in Environmental Research: Health, this research provides a wake-up call for us all.
The study uncovers the shocking truth that air pollution from the oil and gas sector is damaging our air quality and hitting our health and wallets hard. In 2016 alone, emissions from U.S. oil and gas production led to 7,500 excess deaths, 410,000 asthma attacks, and 2,200 new cases of childhood asthma. When you tally up the related hospitalizations and health issues, we’re looking at a whopping $77 billion in annual health costs – triple the estimated climate impact costs of methane emissions from these operations.
Interestingly, the fallout isn’t confined to heavy production areas like southwest Pennsylvania, Texas, and Eastern Colorado. Even bustling cities like Chicago and New York, with little or no gas activity, are feeling the negative health impacts.
So, where do we go from here? The study points towards policies that reduce oil and gas operations emissions as a key part of the solution. These policies would benefit our climate and significantly improve air quality and, in turn, our health.
The study’s authors insist that we need to consider the health impacts across the full life cycle of oil and gas production, from ‘well to wheels,’ ‘well to power plant,’ and ‘well to furnace.’ They also emphasize the importance of inter-state cooperation in addressing these issues.
The five states hit hardest by oil and gas pollution were Texas, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Louisiana. However, Illinois and New York, which produce very little oil and gas, also made the top ten, highlighting the far-reaching impacts of this Pollution.
It’s clear that the urgent need to transition away from fossil fuels is not just about climate concerns; it’s also about protecting our health. So, here’s our call to action: encourage local and national policymakers to strengthen regulations on oil and gas emissions. Let’s Support cleaner, sustainable energy sources and businesses. Let’s make our voices heard for a healthier, greener future. Because every choice we make can help protect our planet and health, one decision at a time.
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