What you can do.
Because most environmentally-mediated diseases either manifest as common medical problems or have nonspecific symptoms, environmental factors can be overlooked.
Incorporating an environmental health and exposure history is critical to helping clinicians recognize the impact of potentially hazardous chemicals and pollutants in the environment, particularly in areas where exposures have recently increased due to industrial activity.
In a practical sense, an extensive environmental health and exposure history may be beyond the scope of most health care providers. However, asking a few screening questions may alert you to a possible environmental cause.
As the literature about environmental exposures from chemical toxins increases, one of the recommendations for health professionals working in areas where natural gas pipelines and related infrastructure have been recently built or expanded is to incorporate questions about potential exposures into patient evaluation.
Simple steps patients can take to reduce exposure to air pollutants from natural gas compressor stations:
1. Keep indoor air clean with home air filters/purifiers
2. Clean using damp, disposable cloths
3. Vacuum with a HEPA filter, rather than sweeping, to reduce airborne particles
4. Remove outdoor clothing and shoes when coming indoors
5. Check weather reports daily - cloudy, windless days create the unhealthiest air quality; sunny, windy days are best.
6. On bad days, keep windows and doors closed and use air conditioning to keep outdoor air outside.
7. Ask local public officials to provide advance notification of any venting or blowdown events so that extra protective measures can be taken.
Those at increased risk from exposure to pollution from natural gas compressor stations include children, developing fetuses, the elderly, and individuals with chronic respiratory or cardiovascular disease.
This information is based on "Air Emissions from Natural Gas Facilities in New York State," a study by Pasquale Russo and Dr. David Carpenter, published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 2019, and "Safety Assessment of Siting Large Scale Gas Compressor Stations in Residential Neighborhoods in New York State," a technical report prepared by the Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project, a non-profit organization of medical professionals and public health scientists.