Benzene Levels Over Health Guidelines Detected during Active Drilling Operations in Broomfield.

On October 26th, Broomfield released a Public Notice that included a report about an air quality event that took place on October 6th, during active drilling operations. The Air Quality System detected levels of benzene 13.4x higher than recommended health guidelines. This report shows an estimated one-hour average of benzene during this event was 120.48 ppb. For context, the acute health guidelines used by Broomfield is 9ppb for a 1-hour exposure. This information was released almost three weeks after the incident date and is the largest concentration of benzene recorded by Broomfield’s air monitoring system to date.

In addition to this significant event, there have been over 30 air quality events captured by the trigger canister program since Extraction’s project resumed operations. This technology was not used during previous drilling operations and leaves many people questioning if these high levels of benzene were happening during operations at other sites like Livingston. It is also important to note, these air emission plumes shift and unless the plume is right on top of a sensor, the peak levels of the VOC’s may not be captured. Have there been other plumes with these high benzene levels that were not caught by the air monitoring systems because they were not right on top of a sensor? Exactly how much benzene have residents in the area of these operations been exposed to?

People who have been exposed to benzene may experience headache, dizziness, drowsiness, confusion, tremors and loss of consciousness. Benzene is also irritating to the eyes, skin and respiratory tract. If you experience any of these symptoms, they can be reported through the Oil and Gas Complaint System.

Exposures of Benzene over recommended health guidelines is not something that can be swept under the rug. According to a publication by the World Health Organization (WHO), “Benzene is carcinogenic to humans and no safe level of exposure can be recommended.” This publication also shares that “The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified benzene as carcinogenic to humans.” Benzene has been linked to two types of leukemia and there is limited evidence of it causing other types of cancer as well.

Nearby residents have expressed frustration that these potentially harmful exposures are not being adequately addressed by the City or the State. Now that the air monitoring is conclusively showing these high levels of benzene are occurring while active oil and gas operation are underway, residents expect immediate action.

If you would like to reach out to City Council about this issue, please email: