New Report: Gas is Harming Queenslanders
THE GAS INDUSTRY risks exposing Queensland communities to hazardous substances that cause cancer, interfere with childhood development, trigger asthma and contaminate the local environment, a new report from the Climate Council has found.
The report, Kicking the Gas Habit: How Gas is Harming our Health, finds that gas commonly used for cooking and heating harms people’s health, while the process of extracting gas risks exposing communities to hazardous substances.
“The Darling Downs, known for its prime agricultural land, is now ground zero for the expansion of Australia’s dangerous unconventional gas industry,” said Queensland-based Climate Council spokeswoman and report author, Professor Hilary Bambrick.
“Research conducted in this region found that people living near coal seam gas developments were more likely to be hospitalised for tumours, as well as blood and immune diseases. There were also significant increases in hospitalisations for respiratory diseases among children,” she said.
“It doesn’t help that in Australia, the primary vehicle for researching the impact of the gas industry, including its health impacts, is a body that is funded and overseen by the gas industry itself,” said Professor Bambrick.
Report key findings:
There was very little investigation into the possible human health impacts of the coal seam gas industry in the Darling Downs before the industry was approved, and there has been little resourcing provided to fully independent research since.
Cooking with gas is estimated to be responsible for up to 12 percent of childhood asthma burden* in Australia. A child living with gas cooking in the home faces a comparable risk of developing asthma to a child living with household cigarette smoke.
Far from the “clean and natural” image that the gas industry markets, gas cooktops are known to produce contaminants that increase the risk of childhood asthma: in particular, nitrogen dioxide and certain forms of particulate matter, like PM2.5. Other types of indoor gas use, such as unflued gas heaters, also harm children’s health.
Children and poorer households are at highest risk from, and most likely to be harmed by, gas production and use.
Gas is a polluting fossil fuel. Governments can prevent health issues, and reduce harm, by helping households and the country move away from gas.
Clean energy alternatives like solar and wind are the key to a prosperous, healthy future for all Australians.
“Just as we spoke up on the dangers of asbestos and tobacco in the past, we have a responsibility now to sound the alarm on the dangers of gas,” said Climate Council spokeswoman and report author, Dr Kate Charlesworth.
“Gas is both directly hazardous to our health, and also as a fossil fuel drives climate change, which worsens health risks related to extreme weather such as heatwaves, bushfires and intense storms,” she said.
“The Federal Government must abandon its dangerous, polluting and expensive plans to expand gas operations, and instead spend public money on scaling up clean, safe, and affordable renewable energy,” said Dr Charlesworth.
*Burden of disease explained here