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Potential health risks of drilling studied

GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” A Grand Junction research institute looking into possible health risks associated with oil and gas drilling in Garfield County will conduct a telephone survey of between 700 and 800 residents this summer.

Project director Teresa Coons, who also is the senior scientist with the Saccomano Research Institute in Grand Junction, said the phone survey is intended to “get a really good assessment of the health status of people in Garfield County.”

The survey will ask questions about an individual’s health much like a doctor asks for a medical history. Coons said questions will cover whether or not the person has had diabetes, asthma, heart problems or cancer. They’ll also be asked where they work, where they get their drinking water, how they heat their home and if they smoke or drink.



Between 2 and 4 percent of the county’s total population will be targeted for the survey, Coons said.

She also said she is not looking for people to volunteer to take the survey. “We don’t want to talk just to people who have concerns about their health, but to everyone,” she said.



Coons said the calls should go out in late June or early July. A first call will alert people that their telephone numbers were selected and to set up a good time to conduct the 20-minute interview.

In 2005 the county awarded Saccomano the $64,000 contract, which is set to conclude in 2008. Coons said a report on the conclusions should be available in January.

Coons and her team have held two public meetings and hosted public focus groups to give people an opportunity to comment about health problems they associate with oil and gas development. They also are gathering information from area hospitals.



“We are trying to draw some conclusions about where oil and gas and other industries could potentially cause problems,” she said.

County environmental health manager Jim Rada said he’s gotten some calls from residents asking about the status of the study. “It’s important that the community knows that these things take time,” he said.

“From our perspective, we’re trying to be as thorough as possible,” Coons said.

Anyone who believes they have a health problem caused by oil and gas or any other industry, can call Coons at (970)255-1898.


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