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Sour gas more dangerous than thought: Study

EDMONTON, Alta. -- A new study has revealed that exposure to sour gas may be more harmful than originally thought a...


EDMONTON, Alta. — A new study has revealed that exposure to sour gas may be more harmful than originally thought and that work must be done to further understand its toxicity.

“There are many examples that hydrogen sulphide should be regarded as a broad-spectrum toxicant and that repeated exposure may result in cumulative effects on many organ systems such as brain, lung and heart,” says the report, which was created by University of Calgary researchers Sheldon Roth and Verona Goodwin. “There is evidence that cumulative health effects of repeated low-level hydrogen sulphide exposure exist, which does not support earlier claims that hydrogen sulphide is only an acute intoxicant.”

Many truckers in the oilfields of Alberta routinely work with sour gas, but it’s not uncommon for some truckers to refuse working with sour altogether. Canadian Press reports about 30 per cent of Alberta’s natural gas production is sour and with sweet gas wells running out, that number is expected to increase.

Gas producers have contended that low level exposure to sour gas is not a threat. Meanwhile, Alberta Environment, the department that sponsored the study, doesn’t agree with its findings.

“This report is not what a scientist would call a critical scientific study,” Alberta Environment spokesman, David May told CP. “We know it contains anecdotal information. It cannot withstand scientific attack.”


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