Is It Dangerous To Live Near Oil & Gas Drilling Locations?

A few years ago, as part of an internship program, I was required to spend a couple of weeks at a flow station, in close proximity to drilled oil wells. Noticeable on arrival, was the absence of residential houses around the location. It appeared to me like the company couldn’t have found a more deserted place to set up base, even if they tried.  Even then, I surmised that safety must have been of utmost consideration. After all, there had to be a reason why we were mandated to wear personal protective equipment. And there was.
Dangers are rife around us. Every so often, these dangers may be generic to industry and peculiar to that industrial environment. Then again, some industries are more hazardous than others. Working in power plants, radiology, or oil fields, if inadequately unprotected, has the potential to cause serious harm. And, what’s worse than working in these industries? Living right next to them!
Citizens, you and I, could for seemingly valid reasons choose to site our houses, say, near an oil and gas drilling location. Remember though, there are very few reasons, if any, as valid as your health. And, living close to oil and gas drilling locations may cause acute and chronic health issues.
Shall we examine how?
The quality of the air
A study observing families living near oil and gas wells in Colorado's Northern Front Range found that the lifetime cancer risk of living within 500ft of a well was 8 times higher than the highest level of risk allowed by the Environmental Protection Agency. This is chiefly because of the presence of benzene.
The researchers, taking ambient air samples, found that average benzene concentrations were 41 times higher within the 500ft Colorado setback (the distance that oil and the gas operation can be placed with respect to home) as opposed to at further distances.
Benzene, a natural constituent in crude oil, is a known carcinogenic. And, living near an oil and gas well where there are extraordinarily high levels of Benzene may be particularly harmful to your health.
In a recent study, researchers showed the link between childhood leukemia and benzene exposure. And a 2004 study showed that exposure to even low levels of benzene reduced the levels of white blood cells- the disease-fighting cells in the body. This may adversely affect the immune system- reducing the body’s ability to fight illnesses.
Furthermore, long-term exposure to benzene, besides being linked to congenital diseases in infants, has been inferred to reduce male fertility and cause damage to the female reproductive organs. 
High-level Noise
Noise-induced hearing loss, which is the temporary or permanent damage to the hearing ability of one or both ears, may occur due to repeated exposure to high-level noise. And drilling operations are characterized by such noises.
Moreover, exposure to high levels of noise may be psychologically disorienting and some of the effects may include: dizziness, fatigue, mental health problems, and nausea.
Living near drilling operations can also be detrimental to physiological health. Increased stress on frequent exposure to high levels of noise may affect the cardiovascular system and lead to an increased heart rate. This can result in hypertension and high blood pressure.
If your house is too close to a drilling operation, you should consider purchasing an ear muff/plug for adequate protection.
The danger of explosions
Human error, company negligence or faulty machinery can increase the risk associated with drilling operations.  In early 2018, an explosion occurred outside Quinton, Oklahoma during the drilling of a gas well. Working in an underbalanced well, the crew removing the pipe from the well were oblivious to gas escaping to the surface. The gas later ignited, resulting in an explosion. Sadly, five lives were lost.
The case in point clearly illustrates that choosing to live close to any of the over 900 active land-based drilling rigs in the US is hardly the most prudent of ideas. Loss of life and/or property may ensue if in the unfortunate event, an explosion occurs.
Admittedly, more research is needed to definitively ascertain the impact of living near an oil and gas drilling location. And, these studies must take into cognizance the lifespan of an oil and gas well.
Besides, grey areas concerned with the setback (the distance that an oil and gas operation can be placed with respect to a home) must be clarified. LA County has a setback of just 300ft and in some states; there are no indications of a setback. Cities are at liberty to decide.
Oil and gas companies are wealthy enough to contest these decisions and request ‘special’ permission to drill within the decided setback.
This lack of effective regulation means more wells are being drilled dangerously close to homes which as we’ve examined can be very, very dangerous. 
Are you considering living near a drilling location? Or, you are living near one already. Would you like to share your experience? Head over to the comment section and let’s talk!   

Precious Marho