Fracking, Shale Gas
and Health

Fracking and Health Awareness Project

Air

First do no harm: continue NS fracking moratorium — EHANS

04/16/2014

The Environmental Health Association of Nova Scotia has submitted a detailed brief to the Nova Scotia Review of Hydraulic Fracturing, outlining concerns about health risks of the unconventional natural gas industry, including fracking.

The brief starts by looking at the state of the evidence, and points of consensus in the evidence.

The brief investigates a number of issues including the need to consider the health impacts of all aspects of the HVHF industry, including but not limited to fracking, and the need to consider short, medium and long term impacts, as well as cumulative, aggregate and peak impacts.

The brief also highlights ways in which traditional regulatory approaches are not a good fit for this industry at this time, including the fact that best practices cannot be assumed to be health protective, given the considerable gaps in scientific understanding of the issue.

The brief also highlights ways in which traditional regulatory approaches are not a good fit for this industry at this time, including the fact that best practices cannot be assumed to be health protective, given the considerable gaps in scientific understanding of the issue.

The brief notes a strong consensus in the literature to slow down and prevent harm.

The deadline for public submission of written evidence t the HF Review is April 30. Additional information is available on the HF Review website, http://www.cbu.ca/hfstudy/project-status.

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Potential Public Health Hazards, Exposures and Health Effects from Unconventional Natural Gas Development

03/04/2014

Potential Public Health Hazards, Exposures and Health Effects from Unconventional Natural Gas Development, authored by John L. Adgate,*,† Bernard D. Goldstein,‡ and Lisa M. McKenzie†, provides a detailed review of the range of potential risks to public health and evaluates the state of the evidence. Up to date, extensive overview.

ABSTRACT: The rapid increase in unconventional natural gas (UNG) development in the United States during the past decade has brought wells and related infrastructure closer to population centers. This review evaluates risks to public health from chemical and nonchemical stressors associated with UNG, describes likely exposure pathways and potential health effects, and identifies major uncertainties to address with future research.

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Potential Public Health Hazards, Exposures and Health Effects from Unconventional Natural Gas Development

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New Brunswick Lung Association: Position on Shale Gas Development

02/21/2014

The New Brunswick Lung Association (NBLA) position statement (2012) on shale gas development focuses on respiratory health.

“NBLA supports a precautionary approach to development of unconventional natural gas deposits in New Brunswick. This includes supporting a moratorium on the exploration, development, and production of unconventional natural gas until:
–The provincial government implements the recommendations of New Brunswick’s Chief Medical Officer of Health.
— Outcomes of those recommendations indicate that hydraulic fracturing can be conducted in a way that does not negatively impact the health of people living in New Brunswick.
— A third-party independent agency provides a full-life-cycle comprehensive and realistic cost/ benefit analysis of the expected revenues and all costs to New Brunswickers that can be used to make a decision to proceed, or not, with Shale Gas development.

The association notes, “The risks associated with shale gas extraction are substantial and the level of magnitude at which it is carried out is unprecedented. To provide context, in Pennsylvania alone 5,364 wells have been drilled since 2007, a number expected to rise to over 100,000 within the next few decades. Regardless of the strength of regulation and safe practice, accidents will occur and water and air will become contaminated (Hays and Law, 2012).”

The NBLA concludes, “While no energy production method is completely benign, the large-scale development of shale gas resources and their potential impacts on human health and world climate call for precaution. Potential exposure pathways must be further investigated, and epidemiologic research is needed to quantify short- and long-term risks to human populations in New Brunswick.”

Read the full statement…

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American Public Health Association Issues Policy Statement on Hydraulic Fracturing

02/20/2014

The American Public Health Association (APHA) policy document, The Environmental and Occupational Health Impacts of High-Volume Hydraulic Fracturing of Unconventional Gas Reserves, examines the “major risks posed by HVHF to public health and the environment, including groundwater and surface water contamination, climate change, air pollution, and worker health.” The policy document considers “the entire process surrounding HVHF, including site preparation, drilling and casing, well completion, production, transportation, storage and disposal of wastewater and chemicals, and site remediation.”

The policy statement provides a detailed overview of identified problems in 10 major areas as well as recommendations for how to approach the issue as well as recommended action steps.

The 10 major areas examined in the statement are:

1. Groundwater, 2. Surface water pollution, 3. Wastewater treatment, 4. Water resources, 5. Air pollution, 6. Noise and light pollution, 7. Community wellness and mental health, 8. Occupational health, 9. Local public health and health care system effects, and 10. Emergency response systems.

Recommendations on how to approach the issue highlight the importance of :
1. Explicitly comparing tradeoffs among the economic, strategic, public health, and global climatological implications of energy alternatives under different extraction scenarios over the long term.

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Shalefield Stories: Personal Accounts From the Frontlines of Fracking

02/04/2014

Residents living on the frontlines of fracking recount their stories of illness, water contamination and damage to their livelihoods due to dirty drilling operations in a new booklet, Shalefield Stories.

“Behind the alarming numbers that outline fracking’s environmental impacts, there are real people whose lives have been gravely impacted by these polluting practices,” said John Rumpler, senior attorney for Environment America Research & Policy Center. “These are their stories, and we would be wise to heed their words of warning on fracking.”

“This is what happens when you invite fracking into your community,” said Marilyn Hunt, who suffered air and water pollution and illness in the wake of nearby fracking operations. “Today, we are not alone in saying this dirty drilling has to stop.”

The people within the pages of Shalefield Stories are only a few of the many individuals and families directly impacted by fracking operations. In some cases, residents affected by fracking are no longer able to talk about their experiences because of gag orders contained in their legal settlements with the drilling operator. One tally called List of the Harmed shows more than 4,800 individuals adversely affected by oil and gas incidents.

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Fracking poses risk to UK farm animals and food safety: Ecologist special report

01/31/2014

Among the case studies uncovered were seventeen cows that died of suspected respiratory failure after exposure to spilled frack fluid in Louisiana, and around seventy cows in Pennsylvania that died after 140 animals were reportedly exposed to frack wastewater – of the surviving cows, less than a dozen produced calves, and only three survived. Another Pennsylvania herd recorded a 50% stillbirth rate after cows had grazed in fields contaminated by fracking chemicals spilling from a waste pit; the following year saw an abnormally skewed sex ratio, with ten female and two male calf births, as opposed to the typical 50:50 ratio.

Oswald told The Ecologist that if fracking goes ahead in the UK, ‘farmers living in intensively drilled areas should be very concerned about potential exposures of their crops and herds to shale gas contaminants in the water, air and soil.’

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Why Fracking and Farming Don’t Mix

01/31/2014

Much of the land sitting on top of the giant underground Marcellus shale field in New York State that is targeted for gas drilling using hydrofracking is active farmland. Fracking this land has the potential to disrupt farming productivity, endanger livestock health and affect produce and livestock quality. It presents a huge danger to our food supply.

Below are some of the many reasons why fracking and farming are incompatible.
reprinted from Catskill Mountainkeeper

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Why Fracking and Farming Don’t Mix

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Farmers comment on Fracking to Alberta regulators

01/31/2014

The adverse impacts of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking, include increases in noise, dust, light pollution, air pollution, traffic on and damage to country roads, damage to fields, loss of productive acres, interference with wildlife habitat, social impacts due to influx of transitory workers, loss of recreation opportunities, potential water shortages, chemical spills on farmland and into surface waters, and reduction in property values. The danger of irreversible contamination of groundwater and resulting loss of wells used for watering livestock, irrigating crops and domestic consumption is our most serious concern.

In many ways, fracking is not compatible with the safe, healthy production of wholesome food. If fracking is to be done, it must be carried out with extreme care by operators and with effective, impartial oversight strictly enforced by a regulatory body that makes the health of Albertans and our environment the top priority. We submit our comments in this spirit.

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Modern Natural Gas Development and Harm to Health: Review

01/06/2014

High-volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing of shale formations has the potential to make natural gas a significant, economical energy source, but the potential for harm to human health is often dismissed by proponents of this method. While adverse health outcomes of medical conditions with long latency periods will not be evident for years and will depend on the exposure, duration of exposure, dose, and other factors, we argue that it would be prudent to begin to track and monitor trends in the incidence and prevalence of diseases that already have been shown to be influenced by environmental agents. The dirty downside of modern, unconventional natural gas development, as well as the potential for harm, is discussed. Review Article from ISRN Public Health

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Modern Natural Gas Development and Harm to Health: Review

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American nurses adopt healthy energy resolution

01/03/2014

The American Nurses Association (ANA) House of Delegates adopted a resolution on Nurses Role in Recognizing, Educating and Advocating for Healthier Energy Choices at their June 2012 convention.

The resolution was submitted by the Pennsylvania State Nurses Association (PSNA). It focuses on nurses using evidence-based information to educate other health professionals, the public and policy makers about the relationship between energy choices and human health.

“Human and ecological health risks are directly related to the use of coal-fired power plants, mountaintop removal of coal, offshore and onshore oil and natural gas drilling, and hydraulic fracturing or ‘fracking.’ Research demonstrates that increased rates of asthma attacks, cardiovascular diseases and lung cancer are all associated with our current reliance on fossil fuels.

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