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Tests Indicate Exposures in Dish Similar to U.S. Population

News Release
May 12, 2010

Biological test results from a Texas Department of State Health Services investigation in Dish, Texas, indicate that residents' exposure to certain contaminants was not greater than that of the general U.S. population.

In response to community concerns about potential health effects of natural gas drilling, DSHS collected biological samples from 28 Dish residents in late January to determine whether the levels of Volatile Organic Compounds, or VOCs, in their blood were higher than those measured in the broader population.

“In Dish, we found no pattern to our test results indicating community-wide exposure to any of these contaminants,” said Dr. Carrie Bradford, the DSHS toxicologist who led the investigation. “We were looking to see whether a single contaminant or a handful of contaminants were notably elevated in many or all of the people we tested. We didn't find that pattern in Dish.”

DSHS paid particular attention to benzene because of its association with natural gas wells. The only residents who had higher levels of benzene in their blood were smokers. Because cigarette smoke contains benzene, finding it in smokers' blood is not unusual.

Some residents had test results that were at or below expected levels for various VOCs. Others had results that were slightly higher than the levels found in the U.S. population data. However, the type of slightly elevated VOC varied considerably from individual to individual, indicating no particular pattern. Many of these compounds are found in a wide array of commonly used products.

While the purpose of this investigation was to determine whether people were being exposed to specific contaminants, it does not determine specific exposure sources, nor does it provide an assessment of possible long-term exposures.

DSHS health officials will have a community meeting to discuss these results at the Dish town hall from 7 to 8:30 p.m. May 18. They also will be available from 5 to 6:30 p.m. to speak with residents. The full Dish exposure investigation report can be found at www.dshs.state.tx.us/epitox/assess.shtm.


(News Media Contact: Allison Lowery, DSHS Assistant Press Officer, 512-458-7753.)

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Last updated December 27, 2013