Physicians find increase in lesions that won’t heal near gas drilling and fracking

I know several people in the Barnett Shale area who have experienced this problem.

New research on the air quality around natural gas wells provides additional evidence and controversy about the possible health effects from hydraulic fracturing or “fracking.” In Colorado, scientists found that fracking wells emit potentially toxic hydrocarbons into the air.

Amy Paré is a plastic surgeon in Washington County, south of Pittsburgh, where over 500 wells have been drilled thus far. Paré specializes in cosmetic procedures — lifts and tucks, and breast implants. Two years ago, Paré started seeing patients with an unusual condition.

“We started to have more patients that would have open areas or recalcitrant lesions, that bled, ulcerated, didn’t quite heal. And usually they’re on your face,” she said.

Concerned about skin cancer, Paré took biopsies of the patients.

“And when we would send them off to a lab, they wouldn’t come back as a cancer but they wouldn’t come back normal,” Paré said. “And then we thought, ‘Well, are these patients exposed to anything?’ So then we would ask the patients are they exposed to anything at work or at home?”

It turned out many of these patients had one thing in common: They all lived near Marcellus shale gas wells. Paré asked her patients to take a urine test.

The urine test results are similar to what was found when the Department of Health Services did the blood and urine testing in Dish, Texas.

“Unfortunately we did find quite a few people that did have urine that had methane in it, toluene, and hippuric acid,” Paré said.

Unfortunately, industry has been successful in misstating the results of the Dish study so often that residents believe their spin. Ed Ireland still has misleading information about the study on his website.

Do airborne toxins from natural gas drilling cause illness?
A recent study of 28 people in Dish, done by the State Health Department, should be released any day. Preliminary results reported by people who participated in the study indicated that there is no evidence of any illness. Highest levels of benzene were found in the blood levels of people who smoked. See Frequently Asked Questions

I have heard Gilbert Horton, Devon Energy, repeat this misleading information when he speaks at council and task force meetings.

Several months ago I submitted an oped to the Denton Record Chronicle in an attempt to set the record straight. They still have not printed it. Here are some hard facts from the Dish blood and urine test:

  1. Half the people who were tested–HALF THE PEOPLE–had chemicals in their blood over the levels of the general population of the US.
  2. The chemicals in the blood, urine and tap water were the same chemicals found in exceedances in the previous air sampling.
  3. 15 chemicals were over the limit for the whole United States.
  4. 10 of those 15 chemicals were more prevalent in the non-smokers.
  5. 2 where equal in the non-smokers and smokers
  6. Only 3 of the 15 chemicals were higher in the smokers
  7. 50% of those tested had concentrations over the average for the United States.

About Sharon Wilson

Sharon Wilson is considered a leading citizen expert on the impacts of shale oil and gas extraction. She is the go-to person whether it’s top EPA officials from D.C., national and international news networks, or residents facing the shock of eminent domain and the devastating environmental effects of natural gas development in their backyards.


  1. says

    If hydraulic fracturing chemicals were to blame for these lesions, wouldn’t expect to see them on gas industry workers who are up close and personal with these chemicals all day long?

    • says

      What makes you think they aren’t showing up? There is more to this story that has not yet emerged.

      However, oil and gas industry workers are only on site for a relatively short time whereas people who live with gas wells surrounding them are often exposed 24/7/365.

    • WCGasette says

      Are gas industry workers really “up close and personal with these chemicals” consistently? And even if they are…don’t they likely leave if they become ill? I mean, would the industry employee roughnecks with lesions?

  2. Anonymous says

    Yeah–and the nearby residents include the sickly, elderly, and children, unlike the healthy adults (with protective clothing, masks, etc.) which are in the workplace for a short time each day.

  3. ND says

    They are becoming quite common on workers in the Bakken, skin broken out so bad they just itch and bleed. Many residents in the area also reporting strange sores and rashes. Mayo Clinic has no answers for the sudden outbreak in ND.

  4. T. Jervis Underwood says

    This exactly the kind of informtion we should get from a newspaper, and the kind of thing Mike Trimble would have been sure to give us. The DRC will censure anything that goes contrary to the interests of the conservative line or corporate interests.

  5. tmckenzie says

    I had 35 of these lesions when our well went bad in south Alabama, my wife and children and neighbors did as well. They hurt like hell. And until we moved they would not leave. I can remember haveing one on my chest as big as a 50 cent piece. And they would bust and stink terribly. This is happening in the US folks, the new third world country.


  1. […] no one wanted to look at Zoe. She looked like a skeleton and her face and body were covered in oozing lesions for which her doctors could find no cause. These lesions cleared up immediately when she abandoned […]