Weld County state posts benzene levels above health policy
DENVER – The Colorado Department of Health and Environment is investigating after benzene levels measured last week at an oil and gas industry site in Weld County were higher than the health directive.
The Colorado Air Monitoring Lab measured 9.9 parts per billion benzene in a community north of Union Reservoir on Dec. 11, and the results were confirmed on Dec. 13. based guideline is 9 parts per billion.
Benzene is a volatile organic compound that can be emitted into the air from sources such as vehicles, garden tools, cigarette smoke, and household products. Humans are exposed to small amounts of benzene every day, but exposure to higher concentrations can cause headaches, skin and eye irritation, and breathing problems.
The Weld County measurement does not reflect an immediate health risk to the community, but does indicate the need for further testing, according to the CDPHE. The health-related guidelines are much lower than the levels that could result in negative health effects, says CDPHE.
The state’s new mobile optical oil / gas sensor for emissions was sent to the community to collect more information on emissions near Knight from Cub Creek Energy in Weld County. The mobile surveillance van spotted the increased benzene reading about 200 meters from the operation.
The state said there wasn’t enough information to determine the exact source of the elevated benzene levels.
After more than 400 hours of monitoring the site, this is the only increased value that has occurred, according to CDPHE.
CDPHE will conduct the investigation with assistance from the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. This investigation includes:
- Inspect the Cub Creek Energy Knight facility and assess other potential sources nearby.
- Measurement of benzene and other volatile organic compounds on site will continue.
- Determine whether elevated benzene levels occur more frequently and inform the public accordingly.
- Analysis of all data collected during the increased measurement.
Anyone who experiences severe or persistent symptoms that may be related to benzene should see a doctor. Anyone with health concerns or questions about oil and gas activity and recent measurements can contact the Oil and Gas Health Information and Response Program at (303) 389-1687 or [email protected]