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Colorado Oil and Gas Health Risk Study

October 22, 2019

Short-term risks of exposure can include headaches, dizziness, and respiratory, skin and eye irritation

Building on an earlier assessment released in February 2017, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environmental released a state-funded study on October 17, 2019 titled:  “Human Health Risk Assessment for Oil & Gas Operations in Colorado.”  A peer-reviewed article summarizing the study was published in the Journal of the Air and Waste Management Association.

The modeling study used emissions data from Colorado oil and gas operations to estimate chemical exposures (e.g., benzene) to humans within 300 – 2,000 feet from facilities.  It concluded that short-term health impacts during “worst-case” conditions included headaches, dizziness, respiratory, skin and eye irritation.  The study is apparently the first of its kind to use actual emissions data to model potential exposure and health risks.  The study does not measure actual exposure concentrations in areas near well pads or the health impacts that people have reported.

Link to study:

Link to Journal article:

Link to 2017 assessment:

This post was drafted by John Watson, an attorney in the Denver, CO office of Spencer Fane LLP. For more information, visit