Toxic Air: Study Finds high Levels of Cancer-Causing Gasses Near Oil and Gas Wells

Should You Be Concerned About Fracking Chemical Safety?

Many of the studies investigating the effect of hydraulic fracturing on the environment have focused on water contamination.  A new study has found that oil and gas drilling may also affect air quality near well sites.

The study, which was conducted by the Institute for Health and the Environment at the University at Albany-State University of New York, found that the air surrounding drilling sites is often contaminated with high levels of toxic, cancer-causing gases. These gasses can be a health hazard to both workers and area residents.

Trained community members in Pennsylvania, Arkansas, Colorado, Ohio and Wyoming collected air samples near eight drilling sites. The samples showed especially high levels of benzene, formaldehyde and hydrogen sulfide. In some cases, the levels of these chemicals were hundreds of times the government-set safety limits.

  • Benzene Health Dangers: Skin irritation, drowsiness, dizziness, vomiting, rapid or irregular heartbeat, headaches, tremors, convulsions, confusion, unconsciousness, cancer, acute myelogenous leukemia, chronic myelogenous leukemia, acute lymphocytic leukemia, anemia, birth defects, death
  • Formaldehyde Health Dangers: Cancer of the nasopharynx, cancer of the nasal sinuses, myeloid leukemia, skin rashes, watery eyes, coughing, asthma, wheezing, nausea 
  • Hydrogen Sulfide Health Dangers: Nausea, eye irritation, headache, breathing problems, insomnia, coughing, dizziness, memory loss, poor attention span, problems with motor coordination, loss of consciousness, cardiovascular effects, death


Dr. David Carpenter, the director of the Institute and lead study author believes that these gasses pose a significant public health risk. He is concerned about future cancer cases among those who live and work near these sites. The study was published in Environmental Health.

This study follows a September 2014 study that found that those who live near an active well have more skin problems, allergies, nosebleeds and respiratory problems than those who live away from fracking sites.

PA Workers’ Compensation for Cancer Victims

Many workers know that they are eligible to receive workers’ compensation if they are injured on-the-job. What many people don’t realize is that worker’s compensation doesn’t just cover back injuries and broken bones; it also covers occupational diseases. Occupational diseases are illnesses, like cancer, that are caused by workplace health hazards, including exposure to chemicals.

You don’t have to be currently employed to receive PA workers’compensation benefits for an occupational illness. You just have to have a work history that shows exposure to a chemical that is linked to your cancer.

Ostroff Law is tracking cancers linked to hydraulic fracturing. We encourage oil and gas workers who have been diagnosed with cancer to call our fracking injury lawyers at 855-880-6667. We’ll let you know if you qualify for benefits.