Paper No. 3
Presentation Time: 8:45 AM


TARLOFF, Keith1, WELLS, Arden A.2, CHAKRABORTY, Jayeeta3, ISLAM, Tasnuva1, BORGFELDT, Taylor1 and FINKELMAN, Robert B.4, (1)Department of Geosciences, University of Texas at Dallas, 800 W. Cambell Road, Richardson, TX 75080, (2)Department of Geosciences, University of Texas at Dallas, 800 W. Cambell Road, MC17, Richardson, TX 75080, (3)Geosciences, UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS -DALLAS, Richardson, TX 75080, (4)Dept. of Geosciences, University of Texas at Dallas, Richardson, TX 75080,

The residents of Texas are exposed to diverse geology, geography and climate that may result in a range of environmental health problems caused by geologic materials and geologic processes. During the Dust Bowl in the 1930s, thousands of Texans died from a form of silicosis, and recent draught conditions in the state may be partially responsible for the reemergence of this health issue. Each year, 50,000 to 100,000 people in the United States develop symptoms of Valley Fever, a dangerous soil-born, infectious disease. Valley Fever is caused by inhaling dust containing fungal spores that occur in soils covering much of western Texas. Outbreaks of Valley Fever are triggered by earthquakes. Asbestos-bearing rocks are mined and processed throughout Texas, giving rise not only to occupational hazards, but also affecting people who live near where the asbestos-bearing materials are handled. Thousands of Texas residents may be exposed to drinking water with levels of arsenic that exceed the EPA limit of 10 ppb. Groundwater permeating low-rank coal seams may result in the extraction of numerous organic compounds that could contribute to kidney failure and renal cancer with long-term exposure. People living in East Texas counties with underlying low-rank coals have two to three times higher rates of kidney disease than do residents of adjacent counties with aquifers not in communication with low-rank coals. More than 230,000 Texas residents in 50 counties are exposed to ground water with radiation levels exceeding the EPA’s Safe Drinking water standards, however, there have been no reported resultant health problems. Another concern is that the hydraulic fracturing process, used extensively in Texas to stimulate gas flow from shale and coal, may contaminate underground sources of drinking water. However, to date, there is no direct evidence that fracking has caused water contamination or health problems.