A Fracking Boomtown, a Spike in Stillborn Deaths and a Gusher of Unanswered Questions | Vernal, Utah

[… Prodded by Young and the concerns she pushed along, which made their way through channels to state officials, TriCounty Health announced a study in 2014 to assess Young’s concerns over the infant mortality rate. But Young, backed up by experts in Salt Lake City, believed the study was designed to fail. She says that any serious inquiry would have started with Suspect One: the extraordinary levels of wintertime pollution plaguing the Basin since the vast new undertaking to frack the region’s shale filled the air with toxins. The county merely counted up infant deaths and brushed aside the facts about Vernal air pollution: ozone readings that rivaled the worst days of summer in New York, Los Angeles or Salt Lake City; particulate matter as bad as Mexico City; and ground air fraught with carcinogenic gases like benzene, rogue emissions from oil and gas drilling. Indeed, pollution was so bad in this rural bowl that it broke new ground in climate science. For decades, experts believed that life-threatening smog occurred only in or near big cities. But the Basin, which is bound on all four sides by mountains, is a perfectly formed bowl for winter inversions, in which 20-below weather clamps down on the valley and is sealed there by warmer air above it. During those spells, when the haze is visible and the air in one’s lungs is a cold chisel, the sun’s rays reflect off the snow on the ground and cook the volatile gases into ozone. The worst such period in the Basin’s recent history was the winter of 2012-13, when nearly all the Uintah mothers whose babies died were pregnant.]

Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/features/fracking-whats-killing-the-babies-of-vernal-utah-20150622#ixzz3fnmY385Q

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