A Texas couple says fumes from fracking have led to deteriorating health, driving them from their Karnes County home of 23 years.
"We're not anti-drilling at all. My complaint is they need to do it in a responsible way ... It's just causing me a lot of medical issues, and I can't have it,” Lynn Buehring, 58, told InsideClimate News.
Lynn and her husband Shelby planned on living out their retirement on their prairie home, where there are at least 57 oil and gas wells and nine processing plants within 2.5 miles.
She says she began suffering chest pains, dizziness, extreme sensitivity to smells and constant fatigue after drill rigs arrived in late 2011. Her asthma grew worse and she began using two rescue inhalers and a breathing machine.
Now she doesn’t go outside without a cloth mesh mask covering her nose and mouth.
She says when customers visit her barn, where she runs her accounting business, they’ve noticed the smells, too.
"There's been many a time when my customers will say, 'What is that terrible smell outside?'" she said.
The smells range from a rotten eggs odor to an indeterminate chemical smell to something that smells like a combination of sulfur, baby poop and petroleum
"Sometimes there's a yellow haze or mist out there, and my tax customers have to walk through that," she said. "How dangerous is that?"
Despite numerous complaints to the Texas Commison on Environmental Quality, officials are reportedly unaware of the air quality in the 26-county region where almost 9,000 wells are operated, according to an investigation by InsideClimate News.
"They don't care," Buehring said, referring to the TCEQ. "They say they're going to talk to Marathon, they're going to do this and that, and it's fallen on deaf ears, over and over and over."
Texas State Sen. Judith Zaffrini, D-Laredo, is meeting with TCEQ to discuss air quality in Karnes County. She plans to ask for a permanent air monitor in the region.
Meanwhile, the Buehrings are still searching for a new home, possibly in San Antonio where Lynn can be closer to her doctors.
"I told [Shelby], I can't live this way and I can't work this way. Enough is enough,” she said.