Climate, the planet, and health

Air Pollution from Oil and Gas Production is Harming Our Health and Business

air pollution from oil and gas production is harming our health and business

A new study by Jonathan Buonocore, assistant professor of environmental health, and colleagues has found that air pollution from oil and gas production in the United States is responsible for thousands of premature deaths and childhood asthma cases nationwide. The study analyzed the health impacts of emissions from oil and gas operations in 48 states and estimated that air pollution from these sources contributed to nearly 10,000 premature deaths in 2018 alone, as well as over 6,000 new cases of childhood asthma.

This study highlights the importance of reducing air pollution from oil and gas production for the well-being of individuals and communities. Air pollution has been linked to a wide range of health problems, including respiratory illnesses, cardiovascular disease, and even premature death. Children, the elderly, and individuals with pre-existing health conditions are particularly vulnerable to the negative impacts of air pollution. Oil and gas production can contribute to air pollution through emissions from drilling, transportation, and storage of oil and gas. The study found that emissions of hazardous air pollutants from these sources are associated with increased risks of cancer, neurological problems, and other serious health effects.

Totaling $77 billion in annual health costs, these health problems impact the business community, both in states with high oil and gas production, as well as states with limited or no gas activity. Companies in the oil and gas industry have a responsibility to prioritize public health concerns and take action to reduce their environmental footprint. This can include investing in technologies to reduce emissions, transitioning to cleaner energy sources, and working with regulators and communities to implement best practices for air quality.

In addition to the moral imperative of protecting public health, companies can also benefit from reducing their environmental footprint and promoting sustainability. Customers, investors, and employees are increasingly concerned about environmental issues and may prefer to do business with companies that prioritize sustainability. This can lead to increased brand value, market opportunities, and investor interest.

Overall, the findings of this study underscore the urgent need for action to reduce air pollution from oil and gas production for the sake of public health. Companies in the industry should prioritize environmental and public health concerns in their operations and take proactive steps to reduce their impact on the environment. This can not only improve public health but also position companies for long-term success in a rapidly changing energy landscape.

Learn more about the study here.

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