Urban oil wells linked to asthma and other health problems in Los Angeles
When California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a goal to phase out oil drilling statewide by 2045, he focused on its impact on climate change. But oil drilling is also a health problem, particularly in Los Angeles, where thousands of oil wells still dot the city.
These wells can emit toxic chemicals such as benzene and other irritants into the air, often just feet from homes, schools and parks.
As environmental health researchers, we study the impacts of oil drilling on surrounding communities. Our research shows that people living near these urban oil operations suffer higher rates of asthma than average, as well as wheezing, eye irritation and sore throats. In some cases, the impact on residents’ lungs is worse than living beside a highway or being exposed to secondhand smoke every day.
Breathing gets harder closer to oil wells
People living near Los Angeles oil wells have less lung strength and capacity than average for the region, on par with living near a freeway, researchers found. The study involved 747 people living within 1,000 meters, 0.6 miles, of an oil well.