Garfield County and the Colorado School of Public Health release Battlement Mesa Health Impact Assessment for public comment

September 20, 2010

Garfield County Public Health seeks public comments on a report regarding the potential health impact of natural gas development and production in the Battlement Mesa Planned Unit Development. Public review and comment is invited for one month, through Wednesday, October 20, 2010 at 5 pm MDT.

The report, released today, is a Health Impact Assessment (HIA), and was commissioned by the Garfield County Board of County Commissioners. It systematically examined currently available information regarding the environmental, social and health status of Battlement Mesa, and applied it to a review of known health impacts of natural gas drilling.

The assessment was prepared by a team of environmental and public health experts from the Colorado School of Public Health, University of Colorado Denver. The team of researchers, which includes experts in public health, epidemiology, environmental health, exposure assessment, and environmental medicine, used this information, as well as the scientific literature, to estimate the potential health impact of natural gas development in Battlement Mesa.

The HIA takes into account a wide variety of potential impacts, including:

Impacts of on air, water and soil

Impacts on traffic patterns

Economic and social effects

The report goes on to suggest potential ways in which Garfield County may be able to reduce health risks for the community and maximize the benefits that natural gas development can bring to a county. The recommendations fall into three main categories, which are:

Promote pollution prevention

Protect public safety

Address boomtown effects

In addition to recommendations regarding health and safety, the report identifies some of the major information gaps that should be filled in order to help the county take health impacts into consideration as part of its decision-making. “The report responds directly to serious concerns that Battlement Mesa residents have had, and puts extensive research on the table for their review,” says Jim Rada, Environmental Health Manager for Garfield County Public Health and project manager for the HIA.

The Battlement Mesa HIA is available for download on the Garfield County website. For a comment to be considered in the final Health Impact Assessment, the comment must be submitted according to the process outlined on the Garfield County Public Health website before October 20, 2010 at 5 pm MDT:

The CSPH team will respond to comments and questions in the final version of the report, to be released Monday, November 15, 2010.

The project is led by Roxana Witter, MD, MS, MSPH, Assistant Professor in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health. Health Impact Assessment is a public health tool for helping to maintain or improve the health of communities. It’s an emerging approach to using available information to help inform decision-making. “By requesting and supporting this HIA, the Garfield County Board of County Commissioners has been proactive in its efforts to protect its citizens,” said Dr. Witter.