Delta group planning air-quality testing prior to drilling

A Delta County citizens group plans to undertake its own air quality testing in hopes of establishing baseline conditions in advance of possibly extensive oil and gas development.

Citizens for a Healthy Community said Tuesday that local residents will carry backpacks with air-sampling devices and collect data over 24-hour periods. It says the project was developed with the help of scientists from The Endocrine Disruption Exchange, based in Paonia.

CHC is working with residents to identify sampling locations and plans to begin sampling in September. Sampling will occur during four separate months over the course of a year.

“This cutting edge approach to conducting an air baseline project uses backpack air sampling instead of a stationary sampling location. This project will collect air samples to identify if an individual has been exposed to chemicals in the air,” the group said in a news release.

Delta County has seen little drilling to date, but parties have asked the Bureau of Land Management to auction off leases covering tens of thousands of acres. The agency has deferred action on the leasing.

CHC said the testing will include polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which often are overlooked in traditional air sampling but can cause serious health effects at levels too low to be seen or smelled.

“Our air sampling project could serve as a model for other communities across the country who are fighting to protect their health and environment from runaway drilling and fracking,” CHC director Jim Ramey said.


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