According to Titan Engineering, the Engineering firm hired by BSEEC to conduct an air quality study in the Barnett Shale, the high levels of formaldehyde they detected are not coming from natural gas production. From the BSEEC/Titan Engineering air study final report:
“it is TITAN’s opinion that the elevated formaldehyde concentrations are not being caused by NG Site operations, but instead are being caused by both vehicular traffic and an unidentified source located to the near south/southwest of the NG Site. During the sampling event, TITAN field personnel did not [however] identify any type of emission source that could have caused or contributed to the formaldehyde concentrations”.
Fugitive emissions occur at every stage of natural gas production which means there is an awful lot of methane in the air around natural gas facilities. Look what happens when methane, sunlight and oxygen mix:
Formaldehyde is produced in the atmosphere due to the degradation of methane by sunlight.
If a blogger can find this information, doesn’t it seem an environmental engineering firm might figure it out?
From the Health Protection Agency publication:
- Due to its gaseous nature, inhalation and eye exposure are most likely
- Possible carcinogen, toxic and corrosive
- Inhalation of formaldehyde can lead to irritation of the nose, mouth and throat. In severe cases, respiratory distress and swelling of the larynx and lungs may occur
- Ingestion of formaldehyde can cause burns and ulcers in the stomach or intestines in the early stages after ingestion. Chest or abdominal pain, sickness, diarrhoea and haemorrhages in the stomach or intestines may also result. Other clinical features include rapid breathing, yellowish discolouration of the skin, blood in the urine and kidney failure
- Exposure of the eyes to formaldehyde causes immediate stinging and burning with spasm of the eyelids and tearing. High concentrations may cause burns to the cornea
- Skin contact with concentrated formaldehyde gas can cause burns to the skin
Formaldehyde is known to be a cancer causing substance and has been classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as carcinogenic to humans. It may produce nasal cancer following repeated exposure via inhalation to levels that produce chronic irritation. Exposure to lower levels for shorter periods is not considered to present any carcinogenic risk.
Children will be affected by formaldehyde in the same way as adults. However, the effects seen in children may potentially be more severe.