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High Toluene levels found in child living in Qld coal seam gas field

Very high levels of hippuric acid, a metabolite of the toxic chemical toluene, have been found in the urine of a 3 year-old child living on the Tara residential estate in Queensland.

The Tara estate, south of the town of Chinchilla, is in the middle of the most intensively developed coal seam gas field in Australia.

Experts from the National Toxics Network, Doctors for the Environment and others have been warning for some time of possible health impacts from contaminants in water, air and soil coming from coal seam gas activities and concerning levels of several of these chemicals have been found in air sampling on the Tara estate.

Scientists from Southern Cross University also recently found high levels of methane, carbon dioxide and concerning levels of radon in air samples taken in the district and US authorities are increasingly linking high air pollution levels to unconventional gas field activities.

Lock the Gate Alliance president, Drew Hutton, said it was time for the coal seam gas industry and the Queensland Government to take responsibility for what was happening to residents, move those who wished to leave and compensate them justly for the suffering caused.

"The Queensland Government allowed this industry to set up in the middle of a residential community without any baseline studies or proper precautions and now it is the residents who are being forced to live with that irresponsible decision," Mr Hutton said.

"Anyone in any part of Australia looking at coal seam gas starting up in their area should have a long, hard look at what is happening at Tara and consider firmly locking their gates," Mr Hutton said. 

"It is no fun living in a gas field."

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