Investigate Health Impacts of Pollution from Oil and Gas Production


Target: Linda Burnham, Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences

Goal: Push for research on the health risks from exposure to air pollution caused by oil and gas production

The continued search for fossil fuels in the U.S., particularly activities involving the oil and gas extraction process known as hydraulic fracturing or “fracking,” has spurred intense controversy over such methods’ potentially harmful impact on the environment. Yet, a growing body of research suggests we should also be concerned about the public health impact of waste products from oil and gas production that get released into the air.  Urge the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences to address the body of research already existing on this issue and to initiate further research to support regulation of these toxic emissions.

A recent study of air quality from the University of Albany found that in the five states studied, Arkansas, Ohio, Wyoming, Pennsylvania, and Colorado, levels of toxic chemicals associated with oil and gas production such as benzene and formaldehyde were found to be higher than what the federal government considers safe for short or long-term exposure. What that can mean for people living or working near oil and gas production sites is illness or worse, a higher risk of contracting cancer and other serious illnesses.

In a recent article in National Geographic News, one ten-year resident of a rural Arkansas community reported that his wife’s hair began falling out in chunks. Whenever they spent more than an hour outside their house, located in an area surrounded by gas wells, they would suffer from splitting headaches. State officials did not investigate the issue further.

Please sign the petition below, and push to investigate the link between these emissions and illness. Help bring vital government regulation to this issue and protect the health of communities across the United States.


Dear Director Burnham,

I am writing out of concern for the communities living or working near oil and gas production sites whose members face serious health risks due to exposure to emissions from toxic chemicals in the area. A recent study published in October 2014 in the journal Environmental Health points to levels of toxic chemicals in five states that are above what the federal government has deemed safe for short and long-term exposure.

While one must agree that our country’s struggle to maintain energy security is vital, we must pay attention to the impact of activities like oil and gas production not only on the physical environment but on the people who pay for this energy production with their health and well-being. I urge you to lead the way in conducting further research into this urgent issue. Please help make these communities’ health a top priority.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: U.S. Marine Corps via Wikimedia Commons

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116 Signatures

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