Coal seam gas and human health

April 27th, 2023

New CSIRO research has been released into the potential for coal seam gas (CSG) activity in Queensland to affect human health.

A 2,150 square kilometres study site in the Surat Basin, Queensland, was selected and factors that could lead to potential hazards such as chemicals, air emissions, noise, light and dust associated with CSG activities were identified and appraised. Existing data related to these factors was screened to determine whether any factors would require in-depth assessment.

While the study found that for the majority of factors there was no plausible pathway to impact human health, it determined further in-depth assessment of a small number of identified factors was required.

As a result, two new CSIRO research projects are now underway and will conduct further in-depth studies focussing on eight groups of chemical factors.

The research, undertaken by CSIRO and The University of Queensland, was governed through CSIRO’s Gas Industry Social and Environmental Research Alliance (GISERA). GISERA is an alliance led by CSIRO and is a collaboration between CSIRO, commonwealth, state and territory governments and industry with the purpose of working with the community to undertake research about the potential or actual impacts of gas development, across major environmental and socio-economic topics.

The study was funded primarily by the Queensland (59 per cent) and Federal Governments (21 per cent) and CSIRO (18 per cent). GISERA industry partners APLNG and QGC each provided one per cent in funding and also made available operational data.

CSIRO Energy Resources Research Director and GISERA Director Dr Damian Barrett said the study provided forensic information about the potential hazards to affect human health from CSG activities in the Surat Basin.

“The value of this exhaustive study is that it provides certainty about where we need to focus further research,” Dr Barrett said. “By ruling out factors of no concern we ensure cost-effective and targeted use of research resources to zero in on chemical factors with a possible pathway for potential impact on human health.

“CSIRO is already taking the next steps to look more closely at these eight groups of chemical factors where a potential pathway can’t be ruled out or more information is needed.”

More information: 

Read the CSIRO media release

Download the final report Identification and screening for potential physical hazards to human health from coal seam gas activities at a study site in the Surat Basin, southern Queensland

For a high-level overview of key findings, download the fact sheet 

Learn about further GISERA health studies now underway investigating identified CSG chemicals and silica dust