Decades of aggressive marketing to Australians has led to several misconceptions about gas. The reality is that it is far from clean. Gas is a polluting fossil fuel that is already harming our health, wellbeing and, of course, the climate. With more gas in the mix, this risk of harm only increases.
Gas extraction and consumption is directly impacting the health of Australians today. Relying on gas for our energy needs poses multiple threats to human health, through exposure to known environmental contaminants. It is these health risks – associated with both the production and consumption of gas in Australia – that are the subject of this report.
The first part of this report considers gas production. The basic requirements of good health include enough clean air, food and water. For communities living close to gas wells, these essentials may be compromised as they are exposed to contaminated air, surface water and groundwater, chemical additives used during drilling and hydraulic fracturing, and compounds used in or generated through the extraction process.
The second part of this report looks at gas consumption, focusing specifically on the hazards of gas use in cooking and indoor heating. Household gas use is a major source of indoor air pollution and a significant contributor to disease burden among Australians, in particular young children. As is shown in the report, using gas at home can create a comparable risk of childhood asthma - as from household smoking.
This report also highlights how these health risks of gas are unfairly distributed. Just like the other impacts of fossil fuel consumption and climate change, they are borne disproportionately by poorer households, young people and First Nations groups. Gas production and use has a greater impact on children and babies; low-income households may not be able to afford gas alternatives; and renters often have little choice over what sort of appliances are in their homes.