Fracking Impacts - Human Health

Wherever fracking is happening, including Texas, Colorado, Wyoming, Pennsylvania, British Columbia and Queensland, people are getting sick as a result of the toxic, carcinogenic and hormone-disrupting chemicals. as well as radioactive materials, they are exposed to via both air and water, with symptoms from headaches, nosebleeds, depression, sleep disturbance and breathing difficulties to neurological impairment, heart attacks, premature death, infant mortality, low birth weight and cancer Continue reading

Children living near Pa. fracking sites are at increased risk of leukemia, study finds (Allegheny Front, August 2022) A new study by researchers at the Yale School of Public Health used the Pennsylvania Cancer Registry, along with state data on unconventional oil and gas drill sites, to determine that children born within two kilometers, or 1.24 miles, of an active well site were two to three times more likely to be diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia between the ages of 2 and 7, a known cause of which is benzene, a chemical released by oil and gas drilling activities into both air and water

Public health in Pennsylvania ignored during fracking rush: Report (Environmental Health News, April 2022) In a rush to reap the economic benefits of fracking, the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH), the state General Assembly and three governors ignored or gave underwhelming responses to public health concerns, including Research has linked increased risk of infant mortality, low birth rates, depression, and hospitalizations for skin and urinary issues to live near fracking wells, according to a new report

Major fracking areas in the US where elderly people are at a high risk of premature death than the average (Click To Enlarge)

Study finds elderly near fracking sites at higher risk of dying prematurely (The Allegheny Front, February 2022) A new study from EPA, National Institutes of Health, and Harvard University has found that elderly Americans had a higher risk of dying prematurely if they live near or downwind of fracking sites, by comparing medical records for 15 million Americans between 2001 and 2015 to records of 2.5 million oil and gas wells, and found that elderly people who lived downwind of fracking sites had a 3.1 percent increased risk of dying prematurely compared to a control group, and for those living near a well site but upwind, that risk was 2.2 percent greater

Pregnant women living near fracking sites face higher risk of hypertension, OSU study finds (Oregon State University, December 2021) In a study of nearly three million births over 13 years, Oregon State University researchers found that pregnant women living in close proximity to oil or gas drilling sites in Texas were more likely to have hypertension compared to those who lived farther away, with pregnant women who lived within 1 kilometer of an active drilling site were 5% more likely to develop hypertension and 26% more likely to develop eclampsia, a more severe form of high blood pressure that can cause seizures and pose a serious risk to both mothers and infants.

Living near fracking wells is linked to higher rate of heart attacks: Study (Environmental Health News, May 2021) A study of hospitalization and mortality records in 47 counties in New York and Pennsylvania from 2005-2014 has shown that living among fracking wells is linked to higher rates of hospitalizations and deaths due to heart attacks, with middle-aged men in Pennsylvania’s fracking counties die from heart attacks at a rate 5% greater than their counterparts in New York where fracking is banned

Fractured: The body burden of living near fracking (Environmental Health News, March 2021) A scientific investigation finds western Pennsylvania families near fracking are exposed to harmful chemicals, and regulations fail to protect communities’ mental, physical, and social health, with chemicals like benzene and butylcyclohexane in drinking water and air samples, and breakdown products for chemicals like ethylbenzene, styrene, and toluene in the bodies of children living near fracking wells at levels up to 91 times as high as the average American and substantially higher than levels seen in the average adult cigarette smoker

Study: PA heart failure patients near fracking were more likely to be hospitalized (State Impact, December 2020) Heart failure patients who live near fracking operations were more likely to be hospitalized than those who live farther away, according to a study by researchers at Drexel and Johns Hopkins studied medical records of 12,000 heart patients in Pennsylvania between 2008 and 2015, with significantly increased odds of hospitalization among heart failure subjects in relation to increasing fracking activity in the area near them

Fracking takes a toll on mental health as drilling and truck traffic rattle neighborhoods (The Conversation, October 2020) Research, across multiple communities across northern Colorado, shows that living near fracking sites can lead to chronic stress and self-reported depression, with people with homes near fracking operations describe vibrations that can make sleep difficult and disturb their pets, and truck traffic around wellpads adds to the noise, dust and other airborne pollutants, creating another layer of industrial disruption, with wells allowed 500 feet from someone’s house under current state rules

Night time flaring at fracking sites in the Eagle Ford Shale seen from space, whose pollution has been linked to an increase in premature births in the region (Click To Enlarge)

A New Study Finds a Link Between Flaring and an Increase in Premature Births (Texas Observer, August 2020) In the Eagle Ford Shale, a rare long term public health study conducted in the region has found that flares were directly linked to an increase in preterm births, with pregnant women exposed to more than 10 nightly flares within three miles of their home having a higher risk of giving birth prematurely, a trend mainly found in Hispanic women, who have a higher exposure to flaring than any other demographic in the region, with flaring releases carcinogens like benzene and formaldehyde; nitrogen oxides, which can cause chronic lung issues; and hydrogen sulfide, which causes nausea, dizziness, and headaches.

Air pollution from fracking killed an estimated 20 people in Pennsylvania from 2010-2017: Study (Environmental Health News, June 2020) Scientists say spikes in particulate matter pollution near wells are cutting lives short, after using satellite data from NASA to calculate daily PM 2.5 emissions from all fracking wells in the state over the seven-year period between 2010 and 2017, in addition to county-level mortality data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and found the increase in PM 2.5 was highest closest to the fracking wells, but increased levels of the pollutant were also detectable at least as far as 10 kilometers (about 6 miles) downwind of emission sources

Living Close to Oil Wells Leads to Lower Birth Weights (Bloomberg, June 2020) New research from the University of California at Berkeley, the first broad-based study to examine local health impacts of drilling in the state of California, shows that pregnant women in rural areas who lived within one kilometer of high-producing oil wells were 40% more likely to have low birth weight babies compared to those who lived further away, with babies 1.3 oz. smaller on average than those born to mothers who don’t live near wells, with low birth weight correlating with higher risk of health problems in early childhood, sometimes even carrying into adulthood

‘Dangerous, toxic and harmful’: Fracking a public health risk, doctors association says (CTV News, January 2020) Congenital anomalies, cancers and asthma are just some of the risks posed to human health by fracking, the extraction of natural gas by hydraulic fracturing, according to the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment, which is recommending an immediate moratorium on the “dangerous, toxic and harmful to the environment.” practice, which uses more than a thousand different chemicals are used in fracturing liquids, and the toxicity of these products is variable and in many cases no information is available on the toxic effects, while some of them are known or suspected carcinogens

Overview of review of the health impacts of fracking published in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Global Public Health (Click To Enlarge)

After a decade of research, here’s what scientists know about the health impacts of fracking (Environmental Health News, April 2019) Fracking has been linked to preterm births, high-risk pregnancies, asthma, migraine headaches, fatigue, nasal and sinus symptoms, and skin disorders over the last 10 years, according to a new study, which was published in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Global Public Health in February, looked at several hundred scientific articles about the community and health impacts of fracking, with the most evidence for concern over negative impacts on pregnancy and birth outcomes, while it is still too early to study some health impacts, like cancer and neurodegenerative diseases, because they take a long time to develop

Potential health impacts of fracking in B.C. worry Dawson Creek physicians (The Narwhal, April 2019) A recent independent scientific review of fracking commissioned by the B.C. government concluded that not only is our understanding and monitoring of its effects on surface and groundwater sorely lacking, but the province is also profoundly ignorant of fracking’s possible public health risks, but local physicians are seeing nosebleeds, rare cancers and respiratory illness, and claim it has had measurable impacts on the health of the community

New Study Ties Spike in Hospitalizations for Genital, Skin, and Urinary Ailments to Fracking in Pennsylvania (Common Dreams, March 2019) New research has tied high rates of hospitalizations for genital, skin, and urinary conditions to fracking in Pennsylvania, underscoring mounting concerns about the public health implications of the controversial process of extracting natural gas, with the research team analyzing county-level hospital data for the state from 2003 to 2014, and their findings indicating that “long-term exposure to unconventional drilling may be harmful to population health”

Study: Coloradans Who Live Close To Oil, Gas Wells Face Higher Cancer Risk (Colorado Public Radio, April 2018) A new study by the Colorado School of Public Health researchers found that people who live within 500 feet of a well in Colorado may experience a lifetime excess cancer risk eight times higher than EPA’s upper acceptable levels, and analyzed about 660 air samples taken in Boulder and Weld counties during the summer of 2014, with Colorado residents living near oil and gas wells may be exposed to concentrations of hazardous air pollutants like benzene, that sometimes exceed EPA health guidelines

‘The Harms of Fracking’: New Report Details Increased Risks of Asthma, Birth Defects and Cancer (Rolling Stone, March 2018) The most authoritative study of its kind, by Concerned Health Professionals of New York and the Nobel Peace Prize-winning group, Physicians for Social Responsibility, reveals how fracking is contaminating the air and water – and imperiling the health of millions of Americans, but despite the public health sector starting to realize years ago that there were potential risks, the industry rolled out faster than research could be done, and now risks have turned into human harms and people are getting sick

Study finds increased hospitalisations in Darling Downs, raising red flag over health impacts of coal seam gas (Lock The Gate Alliance, January 2018) Hospitalisations for circulatory and respiratory diseases in Darling Downs communities of Queensland have skyrocketed since the expansion of coal seam gas mining in the region, a new report finds, with acute hospital admissions for circulatory and respiratory diseases increasing by up to 142% between 2007 and 2014, while over the same period, pollutants reported by the CSG industry which are known to cause cardiopulmonary illnesses rose by an astounding 6000%

Increase in incidence of low birth weight as a function distance from fracking wells in Pennsylvania (Click To Enlarge)

Fracking Linked to Negative Health Effects in Infants, Study Says (Time, December 2017) Babies born to mothers who lived near fracking wells during pregnancy are more likely to experience negative health effects than babies born elsewhere, according to new research published in the journal Science Advances, which found that living within 1 km (0.6 miles) of a fracking well during pregnancy increased odds of low birth weight by 25%, with low birth rates are associated with a slew of different health effects later in life, including various illnesses and developmental problems

Exposure to benzene during pregnancy: a pilot study raises concerns in British Columbia (Science Daily, November 2017) New research reveals that 29 pregnant women living near natural-gas hydraulic fracturing sites had a median concentration of a benzene biomarker in their urine that was 3.5 times higher than that found in women from the general Canadian population, and high exposure to benzene during pregnancy is associated with low birth weight, an increased risk of childhood leukemia and a greater incidence of birth defects such as spina bifida

Study: Benzene byproducts found in pregnant women near fracking sites (Montreal Gazette, November 2017) A Université de Montréal study of exposure to high levels of benzene during pregnancy raises concerns about the risks for childhood leukemia, with researchers looking at a small sample of 29 women living near major natural-gas well sites finding high levels of toxins in their urine, 3.5 times more benzene byproducts in their urine than the average person in Canada, while in nearly half the participants, 14 of them Indigenous women, the levels were six times higher

Graphical summary of a a comprehensive review of carcinogens and leukemogens associated with fracking (Click To Enlarge)

Study Finds Connection Between Living Near Oil and Gas Development and Childhood Leukemia (DeSmogBlog, February 2017) A University of Colorado study finds children and young adults who were diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia were 4.3 times more likely to live within 10 miles of an active oil and gas well than kids with other types of cancer, with some parts of Colorado where oil and gas development is especially concentrated, hundreds of oil and gas wells reportedly lie within one mile of residential areas, and over 378,000 Coloradans and millions of Americans currently live within a mile of at least one oil and gas well

A Not-So-Silent Issue With Fracking: Noise from procedure can be a health hazard (The Intelligencer, December 2016) A new study suggests merely hearing the noise associated with natural gas fracking operations can jeopardize human health, with those living near fracking operations experiencing “sleep disturbance, cardiovascular disease and other conditions that are negatively impacted by stress”, and noise exposure, like other health threats, may disproportionately impact vulnerable populations such as children, the elderly and people with chronic illnesses

Study: Fracking chemicals linked to reproductive health abnormalities in mice (Science Blogs, September 2016) In a new study — the first of its kind — researchers fed water laced with fracking chemicals to pregnant mice and then examined their female offspring for signs of impaired fertility. They found negative effects at both high and low chemical concentrations, which raises red flags for human health as well, and while the study used 23 chemicals found in oil and gas operations, it noted that of the more than 1,000 chemicals used in unconventional oil and gas operations, at least 130 are known or suspected endocrine disrupters

Ozone smog from domestic oil and gas boom blamed for 750k child asthma attacks (Denver Post, August 2016) Environmental health groups analyzing government air quality data have concluded ozone smog from domestic oil and gas production is causing hundreds of thousands of asthma attacks in children under 18 – with Colorado and metro Denver among places hardest hit, more than 750,000 summertime asthma attacks in kids nationwide linked to ozone smog from oil and gas pollution, and the study calculated 32,477 asthma attacks every summer afflicting kids in Colorado, which ranked third behind Texas and Oklahoma

New study links gas drilling to migraines, fatigue and chronic sinus symptoms (State Impact, August 2016) A new study published today in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Health Perspectives shows an association between living near heavy gas drilling activity and common ailments like chronic nasal and sinus symptoms, severe fatigue, and migraines, with the researchers used health surveys gathered from almost 8,000 patients of Geisinger Health System from 40 counties in north and central Pennsylvania those who lived closest to heavy drilling activity were 49 percent more likely to have chronic rhino sinusitis and migraines together, 88 percent more likely to suffer from CRS and heavy fatigue, 95 percent more likely to have migraines and fatigue, and 84 percent more likely to experience all three symptoms

High Levels of Toxins Found in Bodies of People Living Near Fracking Sites (Earth Island Journal, June 2016) Study first to show that harmful chemicals from natural gas operations are contaminating bodies of Pavillion, Wyoming residents, combining air-monitoring methods with new biomonitoring techniques, researchers detected volatile organic compounds (VOCs) released from natural gas operations in Pavillion, Wyoming in the bodies of nearby residents at levels that were as much as 10 times that of the national averages, with some of these VOCs such as benzene and toluene are linked to chronic diseases like cancer and reproductive and developmental disorders, and others are associated with respiratory problems, headaches, nosebleeds, and skin rashes

We’re finding out more and more about the worrisome link between fracking and health (Business Insider, January 2016) A new study published in the journal Nature confirms an opinion long held by experts, that chemicals in fracking fluids and wastewater can pose serious risks for reproductive and developmental health, by analyzing 240 of the known chemicals in fracking fluids the evidence they found is shocking: 43% of the analyzed chemicals have reproductive toxicity, and are linked to problems including birth defects, infertility, reduced semen quality, and miscarriages, 40% pose problems for developmental health, which can stunt fetal development and may cause premature or delayed sexual development later in life.

County level comparison of rate of cardiology hospitalizations and low birth weight with Marcellus Shale gas drilling (Click To Enlarge)

Living Near Fracking Wells Linked to Increased Hospitalization Rates (Newsweek, July 2015) In a study published in the journal PLOS ONE, scientists from Columbia University and the University of Pennsylvania looked at hospital admittance rates from 2007 to 2011 for 18 ZIP codes in three counties in northeastern Pennsylvania, where the fracking industry has boomed in recent years, researchers found a 27 percent higher rate of cardiology hospitalizations for every year that that fracking activity remained that high, and rates of hospitalizations for cancer, skin conditions, neurological illnesses and urologic problems were also higher in these regions

What’s Killing the Babies of Vernal, Utah? (Rolling Stone, June 2015) A fracking boomtown, a spike in stillborn deaths and a gusher of unanswered questions, as an alarming number of babies are dying in Vernal, Utah — at least 10 in 2013 alone, which is a shockingly high infant mortality rate for such a small town, with the prime suspect the extraordinary levels of wintertime pollution plaguing the Basin since the vast new undertaking to frack the region’s shale filled the air with toxins: ozone readings that rivaled the worst days of summer in New York, Los Angeles or Salt Lake City; particulate matter as bad as Mexico City; and ground air fraught with carcinogenic gases like benzene, rogue emissions from oil and gas drilling

Study Links Fracking to Infertility, Miscarriages, Birth Defects (US News, December 2014) A new study links shale oil and gas development to a host of developmental and reproductive health risks, and says the processes involved – including hydraulic fracturing, or fracking – pose a particularly potent threat to what researchers called “our most vulnerable population”, including children and pregnant women, with the risks from exposure to toxic chemicals, heavy metals and radioactive materials include a parent’s worst nightmares: infertility, miscarriage or spontaneous abortion, impaired fetal growth, and low birth weight, and also sounded an alarm about possible birth defects and long-term chronic conditions the, symptoms for which may not emerge for years.

Big-Picture Study Of Fracking Operations Suggests Even Small Chemical Exposures Pose Risks (Huffington Post, December 2014) A paper published Friday in Reviews on Environmental Health suggests that even tiny doses of benzene, toluene and other chemicals released during the various phases of oil and natural gas production, including fracking, could pose serious health risks — especially to developing fetuses, babies and young children, and pulls together findings from studies that have investigated links between exposures to chemicals associated with fracking — and, in some cases, proximity to fracking operations — and developmental and reproductive problems in animals and humans, including reduced semen quality and increased risk of miscarriage, birth defects and infertility

People near ‘fracking’ wells report health woes (USA Today, September 2014) People living near natural-gas wells were more than twice as likely to report upper-respiratory and skin problems than those farther away, says a major study of the potential health effects of fracking, with nearly two of every five, or 39%, of those living less than a kilometer (or two-thirds of a mile) from a well reported upper respiratory symptoms, compared to 18% living more than 2 kilometers away, according to a Yale University-led random survey of 492 people in 180 households with ground-fed water wells in southwestern Pennsylvania

Cemetery in Vernal where rows of graves for babies has raised the alarm in a small Utah town surrounded by fracking (Click To Enlarge)

Fracking Link to Birth Defects Probed in Early Research (Bloomberg, August 2014) The first research into the effects of oil and gas development on babies born near wells has found potential health risks, with more congenital heart defects in babies born to mothers living near gas wells in Colorado, infants born near fracking sites in Pennsylvania were more likely to have low birth weight, a sign of developmental problems, and local authorities in Utah investigating a spate of stillbirths after tests found dangerous levels of air pollution from the oil and gas industry

After Rancher’s Death, Calls for Fracking Health Study Grow Stronger (DeSmogBlog, July 2014) Last month, Terry Greenwood, a Pennsylvania farmer whose water had been contaminated by fracking waste, died of a rare form of brain cancer, which drew attention from around the globe in part because Mr. Greenwood was among the first farmers from his state to speak out against the gas industry during the early years of the state’s shale gas rush, when his water supplies had turned brown and the water tasted salty

In Utah Boom Town, a Spike in Infant Deaths Raises Questions (Newsweek, May 2014) Vernal, Utah’s rate of neonatal mortality appears to have climbed from about average in 2010 (relative to national figures) to six times the normal rate three years later, raising questions about the Uintah Basin’s high air pollution, which has been blamed on the oil and gas industry, as the basin is home to around 30,000 people and some 11,200 oil and gas wells, with another 25,000 new wells proposed

Six Counties In Texas (Outlined In Black) Where Breast Cancer Rates Are Shooting Up, Whilst Declined In The Rest Of US, Compared To Locations Of Barnett Shale Gas Wells (Red Dots) (Click To Enlarge)

Study Shows Fracking Is Bad for Babies (Bloomberg, January 2014) A study of Pennsylvania birth records from 2004 to 2011, by researchers from Princeton University, Columbia University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has found that infants born within a 2.5-kilometer radius of fracking sites have increased likelihood of low birth weight and more health problems

Hormone-disrupting chemicals found in water at fracking sites (LA Times, December 2013) A study of hydraulic fracturing sites in Colorado finds substances that have been linked to infertility, birth defects and cancer

Air Pollution Destroys Health of Texas Fracking Communities (Environment News Service, September 2013) New study documents hazardous chemicals in the air and serious ailments reported by families living in close proximity to drilling operations of the Eagle Ford Shale in South Texas

Statement On Preliminary Findings From The Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project Study (Concerned Health Professionals of New York, August 2013) Early results from a public health assessment in Washington County, Pennsylvania, find that people are getting sick, with air pollution implicated in three-quarters of cases and elevated levels of fracking-related air pollutants were found in people’s homes

Fracking ourselves to death in Pennsylvania (Salon, May 2013) Serious health crisis unfolding as the fracking industry has spread through states like Texas, Colorado, and Pennsylvania where people’s symptoms are the same: rashes, nosebleeds, severe headaches, difficulty breathing, joint pain, intestinal illnesses, memory loss, and more

Report details health concerns for residents affected by CSG (Sunshine Coast Daily, March 2013) A report chronicling the possible health risks caused by the coal seam gas industry in Tara, Queensland has been compiled by general practitioner Dr Geralyn McCarron who is concerned children could be experiencing damage to their nervous system

Fracking’s most horrifying health risks (Salon, December 2012) The threat from fracking to human health includes air pollution, chemical contamination of drinking water, radioactive wastewater and radon gas, but the long latency of many illnesses, a lack of accurate health data gathering, and conflicts of interests affecting research means it may be a long time before the implications are fully understood

Marcellus Gas Wells Likely Harming Public Health: Survey (Bloomberg, October 2012) People living near natural gas wells in Pennsylvania, where more than 5,000 shale gas wells have been drilled since 2009, say drilling has triggered respiratory problems, fatigue, severe headaches and skin rashes, according to a survey of residents in 14 Pennsylvania counties, while air samples reveal 19 volatile organic compounds

Science Lags as Health Problems Emerge Near Gas Fields (Pro Publica, September 2011) Residents of communities across the US that have seen the most extensive natural gas drilling are reporting symptoms including respiratory infections, headaches, neurological impairment, nausea and skin rashes

Breast cancer rate climbs up (Denton Record-Chronicle, August 2011) According to a 2011 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, invasive breast cancer is on the rise in the six Texas counties with the Barnett Shale’s most intense gas drilling development, even as the incidence rate for the disease is falling across the rest of the nation

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