At this point, it’s not exactly news that the oil and gas industry is bad for the planet and bad for people. Climate change is a serious issue that is already negatively impacting people’s lives, but it’s not just bomb cyclones and massive wildfires that we have to worry about. There’s also the pollution that we breathe every day, and that’s bad for our health. But just how bad is it?
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One way to look at the problem is how much it costs, which is a new study in the journal Environmental Research: Health just did. As Axios reports, the health impacts from the pollution caused by the oil and gas industry cost the US $77 billion a year. Nitrogen oxide, fine particulate matter and ozone were the biggest culprits and reportedly cause 7,500 excess deaths, 410,000 asthma attacks and 2,200 new cases of childhood asthma every year. But the estimated cost also includes hospitalizations and trips to the emergency room.
Residents of Texas, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Oklahoma and Louisiana reportedly have it the worst, presumably because of the oil and gas industry’s strong presence in those states. But it’s not like air pollution stops at state lines. The industry’s impact on air quality has spread across the entire country. The study found that Illinois and New York, for example, do not produce much gas but were in the top eight states affected by air pollution.
The good news is, the EPA is working to create regulations to limit the air pollution caused by oil and gas. But the bad news is, there are a lot of powerful people in the position to do more who simply don’t care.
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