The B.C. government will study any health risks posed by the province's booming gas industry.
In a written statement to the CBC, the provincial Ministry of Health said the study is to address concerns raised by the public.
"That is why we are moving forward with this human health risk assessment. The assessment will help us understand the concerns and complete an independent review to provide evidence-based recommendations that respond to those concerns."
For years, farmers and trappers living near gas wells in northeastern B.C. have complained gas leaks and flaring are making them sick.
Glenda Wager spent hours in a toxic gas cloud after a major leak in 2009. She says she's still recovering.
"I was in the gas for six hours. It killed my animals. It's killing me," she said. "[There's] pain in my chest, I can't walk and talk. I used to be very fit, not anymore. I can't train my horses — if they buck, I can't hang on. I can't breathe."
Wilma Avery says her lungs were damaged when one company flared its wells and gas plant below her house during a weather inversion in March.
'We'd like to know — is it safe to live here?' —Dr. Charl Badenhorst, medical health officer, Northern Health
"My doctor said 'I think you've breathed some noxious fumes. I had such a severe hard cough, and it goes 24/7."
Dr. Charl Badenhorst is Northern Health's medical health officer in northeastern BC. He says he's glad an assessment is being done, but wonders if it's too late.
"I think it's a good start. [But] I think it's late. I think it's going to be really difficult to do the right thing and it's going to cost a lot of money."
"What you can study is what kind of monitoring systems we should have in place and what do we do if there are red flags in certain areas. Do we have the courage to shut down certain areas [for gas development]," said Badenhorst.
"We'd like to know — is it safe to live here?"
The government is accepting bids to undertake its "Human Health Risk Assessment of BC Oil and Gas Development."
The Ministry of Health says the assessment will include stakeholder and public engagement, a scientific review and a final report to stakeholders and the public.