Health risk study presentation tonight in Rifle |

Health risk study presentation tonight in Rifle

Phillip YatesGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

RIFLE, Colorado Its been a long-awaited study.And on Tuesday, it will finally be presented before Garfield County residents.Researchers behind a Garfield County health risk assessment, which looked at the health of people in Garfield County and the potential health risks from natural gas operations, will present their findings at 6:30 p.m. in the auditorium at the West Garfield campus of Colorado Mountain College in Rifle.Staff from the Saccomanno Research Institute at St. Marys Hospital and Western State College conducted the assessment. A fine levied against EnCana Oil & Gas (USA) paid for it, said Jim Rada, environmental health manager for Garfield County.Rada said if residents have an interest in understanding general health risks and perhaps some risks with oil and gas development, we definitely want to encourage them to attend.The study began in October 2005, and researchers conducting it are just now putting the final report of the study together, Rada said. Its total cost is about $65,000.Teresa Coons, senior scientist with the Saccomanno Research Institute and lead researcher for the health risk assessment, said it could end up being close to 250 pages when it is finally completed. What she plans to present today is essentially an executive summary of the study, she said. Both Rada and Coons declined to reveal details of the study Monday.Rada said the health risk assessment takes a look at community health risks on a broad, communitywide scale, using various data from the region to look at the potential health risks in the community. Researchers used that data to compare the risks within various communities in the area, Rada said.The study will also include computer modeling from previous Garfield County air monitoring studies to analyze how far and how close from an emission source one must be to be at risk for health effects, Rada said.A study of the countys air quality, released late last year, found no violations of federal air quality standards and that the levels of air pollutants in the area were generally very low. But a preliminary health risk assessment provided with that study said that some oil and gas sites appeared to present significantly higher cancer risk than urban and rural areas. The assessment also said there were potential impacts from benzene, a known carcinogen, across oil and gas development areas of the county.Contact Phillip Yates: 384-9117pyates@postindependent.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO

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