The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission is busy trying to figure out why communities near gas production facilities are experiencing life-threatening levels of hydrogen sulfide. At low levels hydrogen sulfide can cause respiratory distress, headaches, and loss of motor control, while at high levels can cause nausea, vomiting, shock, convulsions and death.
In June, air samples taken near a gas well pad in Colorado showed hydrogen sulfide levels at 185 times the safety limit set by the Environmental Protection Agency. The highly toxic gas was discovered by a group of vigilante air testers called the Bucket Brigade, working with the Global Community Monitor program to expose industrial polluters.
The investigation, led by a coalition of citizen and environmental organizations, collected nine air samples near gas drilling operations in Colorado and New Mexico. They discovered a total of 22 toxic chemicals in their community air, of which four are known to cause cancer. These industrial pollutants were discovered at levels 3 to 3000 times greater than official human safety thresholds.