Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Study Shows Residents Living Near Gas Wells Report More Health Issues

A new study published in Environmental Health Perspectives, a journal of the National Institutes of Health, found that living near natural gas wells or fracking operations may increase the risk for a variety of health issues.

©iStockphoto.com/Stephen Strathdee
Nearly 500 people participated in the study as researchers conducted a random survey of 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 gas wells in the survey area. Ninety-five percent of those wells produce gas via hydraulic fracturing.

Researchers compared proximity of gas wells to the frequency of self-reported skin, respiratory, gastrointestinal, cardiovascular and neurological symptoms over the past year. Although the study does not claim that the wells cause the health problems, results do suggest a link between the prevalence of some symptoms and proximity to gas wells. The study found those living 1 kilometer or closer to gas fracking wells were more than twice as likely to report skin conditions and upper respiratory symptoms as those living more than 2 kilometers away.

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