Paula S.: Butler County PA
Excerpt from “Shalefield Stories - Personal and Collected Testimonies”
Published by Steel Valley Printers
Exposure: Natural Gas processing plant on route to work
Air Contamination: H2S - Hydrogen Sulfide
Human Health Impact • Headaches • Nosebleeds • Dizziness • Vomiting • Vertigo
I don’t know if it is the Sjogrens Syndrome or just hypersensitivity that renders me the proverbial “canary in a coal mine.” My immune system took a hit on December 8, 2011... two or three seconds of exposure from inside an enclosed car has taken months of recovery. I’m angry. I was doing so well, with energy like I hadn’t had in years, and it was taken away in less than five seconds.
On Thursday, December 8, 2011, as I made my way home from Zelienople traversing the countryside as I did on a daily basis, I was assaulted by a nasty smell. A few seconds of inhalation elapsed before I realized what was happening and jumped to turn off the heater. A few seconds of a noxious odor akin to rotten eggs wafted its way into my car. My husband would later tell me that it might have been H2S – Hydrogen Sulfide. I had just passed by a gas processing plant that had sprung up along Route 528 near the Upper Harmony extension. Two seconds of inhalation of something instantly caused a tingling sensation on my scalp, quickly followed by an intense all over headache and numbness to the back of my head. I was concerned that I may not make it home since I was near the halfway point. I kept driving while keeping tabs on what I was feeling. I just wanted to be as far away from that smell as possible.
When I experience numbness to the back of my head it means that my adrenals are under stress. When I got home I took supplements to boost adrenal support. I also took Rescue Remedy because I felt that I had been assaulted. The tingling, numbness, and headache slowly subsided over a period of days. Lack of energy was left in its wake. I took a multitude of naps because I had no energy. I also experienced extreme irritability and edginess. My nerves were totally shot. My calm demeanor had become volatile.
I read later that all of the symptoms I had experienced were indeed signs of H2S exposure, right down to the irritability and volatility. I purchased a respirator.
I have opted to travel a different way to work. My route may change again as I try to avoid more drilling sites. If I keep rerouting myself, soon it will take me an hour to get to work instead of 25 minutes. I’m not crazy about adding the extra miles to the car, not to mention the money spent on gasoline. It’s sort of perverse that I need to burn more fuel to avoid what makes me sick. If the pace of growth continues there may be no way for me to avoid exposure. I wonder if I can drive with a respirator? Will the police pull me over for wearing a mask?
This past week I went to my doctor. I talked to her about my ordeal. She tested me for presence of toxins. I tested positive for chemical exposure. She put me on a supplement to help rid my body of the toxins and also increased my adrenal support. Overall, my system has taken a hit. In the meantime, I try to work my way back to where I was and avoid exposure.
After monthly visits to my doctor my system is getting better. I am not sure when I will need to use the respirator.
I hear that a processing plant is going in a couple of miles due west of my home. I wonder if I will be able to stay here. But where do I go? My family is here. My job is here.
- Paula S.