Saturday, September 13, 2014

Living near fracking sites deteriorates health - study

Those who live in close proximity to fracking sites exhibited a greater likelihood to suffer skin and respiratory problems than those who lived farther away from natural gas wells, according to a new study of Pennsylvania’s Marcellus shale region.
The study“Proximity to Natural Gas Wells and Reported Health Status: Results of a Household Survey in Washington County, Pennsylvania,” published this week in Environmental Health Perspectives, found that people who reside within one kilometer of a hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, well were significantly more likely to endure ill health effects than those living two kilometers away.
A Yale-based research team addressed 492 individuals in 180 households in southwestern Pennsylvania, where the Marcellus shale has attracted its fair share of the fracking surge seen throughout the United States. Washington County alone has 624 active gas wells, 95 percent of which have been used for fracking.
To unleash oil or natural gas, fracking requires blasting large volumes of highly pressurized water, sand and other chemicals into layers of rock. The contents of fracking fluid include chemicals that the energy industry and many government officials will not name, yet they insist the chemicals do not endanger human health, contradicting findings by scientists and environmentalists. Toxic fracking wastewater is then either stored in deep underground wells, disposed of in open pits for evaporation, sprayed into waste fields, or used over again.
Fracking has been linked to groundwater contamination, an uptick in earthquakes, exacerbation ofdrought conditions and a host of health concerns for humans and the local environment.
Notwithstanding those relationships, however, the Yale researchers said their study started because of the lack of information available regarding the effects of fracking.