A new independent analysis for the first time has quantified the health impacts in the United States from ozone smog attributable to oil and gas industry air pollution.
Authored by the Clean Air Task Force and titled Gasping for Breath, the analysis finds:
Ozone smog that results from oil and gas industry pollution poses a real threat to children who suffer from asthma.
- Nationally, there are more than 750,000 summertime asthma attacks in children under the age of 18 due to ozone smog resulting from oil and gas pollution.
- Each summer, there are more than 2,000 asthma-related emergency room visits and over 600 respiratory related hospital admissions nationally due to ozone smog resulting from oil and gas pollution.
Ozone smog that results from oil and gas industry pollution has a real impact on many people’s daily lives.
- Children miss 500,000 days of school nationally each year due to ozone smog resulting from oil and gas pollution.
- Each year, adults must deal with 1.5 million days when they are forced to reduce activity or rest due to high ozone smog levels resulting from oil and gas pollution.
Ozone Smog Threatens People Far From Oil and Gas
Air pollution from oil and gas facilities can have a significant impact on public health – even in areas far from oil and gas production. Air pollution from oil and gas facilities travels far downwind, contributing to elevated ozone levels and affecting people in the lower 48 states.
How the Oil & Gas Industry Contributes to Ozone Smog
The oil and gas industry dumps more than 9 million tons of methane and other pollutants, like volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into our air each year.
These pollutants contribute to the formation of ozone smog pollution, blanketing the U.S. in the warmer months. VOCs and methane vented and leaked from the oil and gas supply chain, and nitrogen oxides (NOx) formed by gas flaring and engines at natural gas facilities react together in the presence of sunlight to form ozone smog. Methane pollution from oil and gas facilities also worsens climate change, resulting in hotter weather and stagnant air. These warmer conditions in turn worsen ozone smog levels.
Why Ozone Smog is Harmful
When inhaled, ozone smog can impair lung function, trigger asthma attacks, and aggravate conditions of people with bronchitis and emphysema, in some cases leading to premature death.
Children, the elderly, and people with existing respiratory conditions are the most at risk from ozone smog pollution, which can drive them to shelter indoors in the warmest months of the year when smog levels are highest, robbing children of their summers and others of their ability to work and recreate outdoors.