Letter: Protect yourself from risks of oil and gas production
A proposal to restrict the location of new oil and gas wells made the ballot last week. I’m glad that Coloradans get to vote to keep fracking operations away from their homes and schools. The health risks of living near fossil fuel operations are real. Studies show that living within half a mile of fracking wells increases the risk of low birth weight, cancer and pulmonary issues.
I’m the daughter of a coal miner. I grew up in the hilly south of the Netherlands: big coal country in the 1960s. My parents were thrilled to find a decent house to raise their kids. It had a garden where my dad raised veggies to feed us. It had a good school at walking distance. The house was less than half a mile from the coal-fired power plant. Our school was blocks away from the plant. We were grateful, and thought nothing of the yellow plume coming from the power plant.
I was born some years after they found the house. I had low birth weight, and more than one brush with death in my early years, but my mom always pulled me through. Heartbreakingly, she died at 49, from non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a poorly understood cancer at the time. We now know that that yellow plume contained a toxic brew of chemicals, including benzene. Benzene exposure is a known risk factor for non-Hodgkin lymphoma. It’s hard not to blame that power plant.
I hope with all my heart that Coloradans will choose to protect themselves from such health risks. No amount of natural gas that we ship to China is worth losing your mom at 20.