The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued the first national standard to reduce air pollution linked to hydraulic fracturing on Wednesday, reports Philly.com. The controversial practice commonly referred to as "fracking" forces fluid into a well to break rocks and release natural gas.
The new standards will take full effect in 2015, and it is estimated that they will drastically cut the production of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), which contribute to smog by 190,000 to 290,000 tons and add 12,000 to 15,000 tons of benzene to the atmosphere annually.
"[The standards] will reduce smog-forming air pollution along with cancer-causing air toxins," said Gina McCarthy, an assistant administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), according to the news source. "Smog formation has been linked to various health ills including asthma attacks, emergency room visits and premature deaths."
Homeowners located near fracking well sites can invest in a home air purifier such as the IQAir GC MultiGas to reduce their exposure to toxic chemicals. While the new regulation will decrease emissions of VOCs from wells by 95 percent, according to Bloomberg, they won’t completely go into effect until 2015. Unfortunately, even three years of exposure can lead to negative health effects.