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Impact of the Aliso Canyon Gas Leak on Respiratory-Related Conditions Among US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Users

  • Lilia R. Lukowsky (a1), Claudia Der-Martirosian (a1), Alicia R. Gable (a1) and Aram Dobalian (a1) (a2)

Abstract

Background

The largest gas leak in United States history occurred October 2015 through February 2016 near Porter Ranch (PR), California, and prompted the temporary relocation of nearby residents because of health concerns related to natural gas exposure.

Methods

A retrospective cohort study was conducted using US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) administrative and clinical data. On the basis of zip codes, we created two groups: PR (1920 patients) and San Fernando Valley (SFV) (15 260 patients) and examined the proportion of outpatient visits to VA providers with respiratory-related diagnoses between October 2014 and September 2017.

Results

We observed an increase in the proportion of visits in the PR group during the leak (7.0% vs 6.1%, P<0.005) and immediately after the leak (7.7% vs 5.3%, P<0.0001). For both groups, we observed a decrease in respiratory diagnoses one year after the leak (7.0% to 5.9%, P<0.05 PR; 6.1% to 5.7%, P<0.01 SFV).

Conclusion

Exposure to natural gas likely led to the observed increase in respiratory-related diagnoses during and after the PR gas leak. Early relocation following natural gas leaks may mitigate respiratory exacerbations. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2019;13:419-423)

Copyright

Corresponding author

Correspondence and reprint requests to Lilia Lukowsky, Veterans Emergency Management Evaluation Center, 16111 Plummer Street MS-152, North Hills, CA 91343 (e-mail: Lilia.Lukowsky@va.gov).

References

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1. Conley, S, Franco, G, Faloona, I, et al. Methane emissions from the 2015 Aliso Canyon blowout in Los Angeles, CA. Science. 2016;351(6279):1317-1320.
2. Adgate, JL, Goldstein, BD, McKenzie, LM. Potential public health hazards, exposures and health effects from unconventional natural gas development. Environ Sci Technol. 2014;48(15):83078320.
3. Steinzor, N, Subra, W, Sumi, L. Investigating links between shale gas development and health impacts through a community survey project in Pennsylvania. New Salut. 2013;23(1):5583.
4. Rabinowitz, PM, Slizovskiy, IB, Lamers, V, et al. Proximity to natural gas wells and reported health status: results of a household survey in Washington County, Pennsylvania. Environ Health Perspect. 2015;123(1):21.
5. McKenzie, LM, Witter, RZ, Newman, LS, et al. Human health risk assessment of air emissions from development of unconventional natural gas resources. Sci Total Environ. 2012;424:7987.
6. Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. Aliso Canyon Gas Leak Results of Air Monitoring and Assessments of Health. http://www.publichealth.lacounty.gov/media/docs/AlisoAir.pdf. Published February 5, 2016. Accessed September 19, 2017.
7. Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. Aliso Canyon Gas Leak Public Health Assessment. http://www.publichealth.lacounty.gov/media/docs/PublicHealthAssessment.pdf. Accessed Sep, 19, 2017.
8. Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. Aliso Canyon Gas Leak Community Assessment for Public Health Emergency Response (CASPER). http://publichealth.lacounty.gov/media/docs/CASPERFinalReport.pdf. Accessed November 2, 2017.
9. Rangan C. Public Health Implications of Findings From the Gas Storage Well Safety Review and Proposed Pressure Limits for the Aliso Canyon Storage Facility. http://publichealth.lacounty.gov/media/docs/AlisoCanyon.pdf. Accessed September 19, 2017.
10. Walton A. City attorney demands faster relocation of residents near Porter Ranch gas leak. Los Angles Times. http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-porter-ranch-relocation-20151222-story.html#. Published December 22, 2015. Accessed November 27, 2017.

Impact of the Aliso Canyon Gas Leak on Respiratory-Related Conditions Among US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Users

  • Lilia R. Lukowsky (a1), Claudia Der-Martirosian (a1), Alicia R. Gable (a1) and Aram Dobalian (a1) (a2)

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