Garfield County Looks To Saccamano Intstitute For Health Study

Monday, Garfield County Commissioners awarded Grand Junction's Saccomano Institute a grant to separate fact from fiction on the health risks of the oil and gas industry in the county. The Saccomano Institute is part of St. Mary's Hospital, and performs studies in environmental and occupational threats to human health.

Some residents of Garfield County have reported skin irritations and headaches. They say are associated with natural gas wells near their homes. Other residents believe some cancers may be associated with water wells contaminated by drilling.

Saccomano Institute Senior Scientist Teresa Coons will head the study, which will compare interviews with county residents with data from the Colorado Department of Health.

Mesa State College Professor Russell Walker will perform studies of air, soil, and water quality, and compare those results with baseline data. Funding for the two–year study comes from fines Encana Oil and Gas U.S.A. paid after natural gas from a company well surfaced last year in West Divide Creek near Silt.

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