"The release of cancer-causing benzene and other toxic gases from sites in Pennsylvania raises concerns about millions of other abandoned wells across the U.S."
"On a cloudy late-winter morning in 2004, Charles and Dorothy Harper were babysitting their 17-month-old grandson, Baelee, when the furnace in their rural Western Pennsylvania home revved up. The newly retired pastor and his wife did not realize that flammable gas had infiltrated the basement of the house, which they had recently built.
Around 9 a.m. that dreary March morning, a massive explosion leveled the house and left three lifeless bodies buried in the rubble along a country road about 80 miles northeast of Pittsburgh.
There were 16 known gas wells within 3,000 feet of the Harpers’ home. Natural gas from a well that was being drilled had entered the basement through the couple’s well water, a marshal with a local fire department told The Pittsburgh Tribune Review at the time. Officials knew this, the marshal said, because they tested the victims’ blood and lung tissue after recovering their bodies and found methane—a potent climate-warming compound that is the main constituent of natural gas.
Yet a new study suggests that residents of the nation’s fossil-fuel producing regions could be facing a different threat: carcinogens and other toxic air contaminants spewing from millions of wells that are no longer even operating."