Statement from Executive Director Dr. Larry Wolk on McKenzie oil and gas report April 9, 2018

April 9, 2018
Regarding McKenzie et al. Ambient Non-Methane Hydrocarbon Levels Along Colorado’s Northern Front Range: Acute and Chronic Health Risks (2018)
This study confirms our 2017 findings of low risk for cancer and non-cancer health effects at distances 500 feet and greater. In addition:
  1. This study found increased risk for cancer and non-cancer health effects only at distances closer than 500 feet.
  2. This study uses similar methods and many of same datasets as we did in our 2017 report. However, there are two main differences:
    1. This study considered data from closer than 500 feet from the oil and gas operation, whereas our 2017 report only considered data collected at 500 feet or greater as this is the current Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission setback distance.
    2. This study used California EPA risk assessment methods while our 2017 report used U.S. EPA standard methods.
  3. This report underscores the potential public health importance of the 500-foot setback and the need to collect more comprehensive air quality data in communities in close proximity to oil and gas operations.
  4. The department’s Oil and Gas Health Information and Response program has been collecting extensive air sampling measurements in multiple communities near different oil and gas activities using our mobile laboratory. So far, we have not found any elevated short- or long-term risks from the same substances evaluated in the McKenzie study.
  5. A detailed risk assessment currently is being conducted using more comprehensive data collected by CSU researchers on substances directly emitted from oil and gas operations. This will provide us with important information to further understand the results of McKenzie's study and our report findings. The findings of this risk assessment will be submitted for a peer-reviewed publication this summer.
  6. Citizens can report any health concerns potentially related to oil and gas to the Oil and Gas Health Information and Response Program at or by calling 303-389-1687.