Today, the Commission and its Scientific Committee on Health, Environmental and Emerging Risks (SCHEER) puts forward for feedback, a Preliminary Opinion on the public health impacts and risks resulting from onshore oil and gas exploration and exploitation in the EU. Interested parties are invited to submit their comments on the scientific evidence online until 6 May 2018.
Although more than 1300 different chemicals – some of which are known carcinogens, may be released in the environment as a result of oil and gas operations, to date there has been very limited scientific assessment of the possible health effects in the EU. For this reason, the SCHEER has been asked to assess public health risks resulting from onshore oil and gas exploration and extraction activities on a commercial scale in the EU, and to identify knowledge gaps.
In its preliminary Opinion, the SCHEER concludes that the existing epidemiological studies provide weak to moderate evidence that onshore oil and gas exploration and exploitation entails health risks for the general population. They also indicate that the risk of some cancers and of adverse birth outcomes may be increased in populations living around onshore oil and gas exploration and exploitation sites.
In order to address the identified knowledge gaps, the SCHEER recommends the following:
- A centralised and harmonised well-based inventory of all oil and gas exploration and exploitation sites in the EU;
- Analytical and modelling studies that identify, quantify and characterise exposure mixtures and their levels in the vicinity of these sites;
- Targeted biomonitoring studies of populations potentially at risk; and
- Large-scale epidemiological studies with accurate exposure assessment.
Relevant comments submitted to this public consultation will be reflected in the final Opinion, which is expected to be adopted in the second half of 2018.