More health symptoms reported near 'fracking' natural gas extraction

More health symptoms reported near ‘fracking’ natural gas extraction
Credit: Patrick Lynch

A Yale-led study has found a greater prevalence of health symptoms reported among residents living close to natural gas wells, including those drilled by hydraulic fracturing. The study appears online Sept. 10 in Environmental Health Perspectives, a journal of the National Institutes of Health.

Little is known about the environmental and public impact of certain extraction techniques—including hydraulic fracturing, also known as "fracking"—that occur near residential areas.

The researchers conducted a random survey of 492 people in 180 households with ground-fed water wells in southwestern Pennsylvania, where natural gas extraction activity is significant. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, there were 624 active natural in the survey area. Of those, 95% produce gas via .

The researchers compared proximity of gas wells to the frequency of self-reported skin, respiratory, gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, and neurological symptoms over the past year. The environmental health survey was general and did not ask specific questions about natural , or fracking, in the area.

The prevalence of some reported health symptoms was higher among residents living closer to natural gas wells, the researchers report. Reports of skin conditions were more common in households less than 1 kilometer from gas wells compared to those more than 2 kilometers from the gas wells. Reported upper respiratory symptoms also were greater in homes closer to wells. The study did not find a significant increase in grouped neurological, cardiovascular, or gastrointestinal symptoms among those living in homes closer to natural gas wells.

This was an association study and did not look at causation. "Our study suggests that natural gas drilling may increase the risk of health symptoms in people living near the wells. We believe our findings support the need for further research into the health and environmental implications of this form of ," said the study's senior author Meredith Stowe, associate research scientist at the Yale Occupational and Environmental Medicine Program and lecturer at the Yale School of Public Health.

"The effect we found persisted in the analyses, even after adjusting for gender, age, educational level, smoking, and awareness of environmental risk factors," added first author Peter Rabinowitz, M.D., who led the research while at Yale and is now an associate professor in the Departments of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences and Global Health at the University of Washington's School of Public Health.

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Citation: More health symptoms reported near 'fracking' natural gas extraction (2014, September 11) retrieved 26 May 2019 from
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Sep 11, 2014
Make the frackers drink the water, and that water only.

That ought to do it.

Sep 11, 2014
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Sep 11, 2014
This nasty stuff is going into the aquifers!! We will drink it forever.

Wake up!

Sep 11, 2014
Come one guys, There is nothing wrong with ruining the planet! You just have to do it slowly, and make money, then its OK.

Sep 11, 2014
Yup. perfectly safe. I am in OK. They drill right next to school playgrounds so they must be safe! A well was recently drilled horizontally and fracked RIGHT BEHIND an elementary school near me. Surely spending ~8hrs/day less than 1,000 feet from it has no health implications. I should have gotten a picture. 50-100 kids playing on the school playground with a very large drilling rig just in the trees behind the school. An accident or spill, such as a tanker truck of hydrochloric acid, couldn't happen, right? Or 30,000 horsepower of diesel exhaust in the air. That isn't bad either, right? Or the EQs? As of this morning 3,370 EQs for 2014 alone, 643 of those less than 10mi from me; 19 have been 4.0+, 4 of those less than 10mi from me). I've been here 2 years, but VERY tired of the EQs, science deniers (unless it's science of petroleum extraction), the ultra-conservative and ultra-religious, etc... it might be time to move. I am somewhat regretting moving (employer relocated)...

Sep 11, 2014
Hey, MP3Car, it's MONEY!!

What are kids compared to MONEY!?!?

Sep 12, 2014
The UK government's report into the environmental and health issues concerning Fracking were all but redacted. The whole 16 page report!!!
What do they say.. "nothing to fear, nothing to hide?".
Yeah. right!

Sep 12, 2014
The Cornell guys along with a colleague from Shell released a study stating how wonderful the groundwater is near fracking sites, according to the study the best place to dispose of noxious chemical mixes used in the process are right under our feet. Doubtlessly soon there will be ad campaigns with pristine vistas, perhaps featuring endangered species or deer fawns frolicking near rigs with the trusty voiceover assuring the public that their best interests are served by fracking.
Obtaining accurate data is difficult but whatever the objective truth is won't matter, perception or creating a misperception is enough to ensure a short term gain.
Think: pro-tobacco science and climate change deniers.

Sep 15, 2014
This comment has been removed by a moderator.

Sep 16, 2014
Hey, MP3Car, it's MONEY!!

What are kids compared to MONEY!?!?

Exactly... actions (or lack there of) speak louder than words...

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