This peer-reviewed study by veterinarian Michelle Bamberger and Veterinary Medicine Professor of Pharmacology Robert Oswald, both of Cornell University, is the first scientific study to investigate reports of animal health impacts associated with shale gas development. The study is based on interviews with animal owners who live near gas drilling operations. It also documents associations between health symptoms experienced by animals and the health problems suffered by humans. The findings illustrate which aspects of the drilling process may lead to health problems and suggest modifications that would lessen but not eliminate impacts.
Bamberger and Oswald conclude, “Without rigorous scientific studies, the gas drilling boom sweeping the world will remain an uncontrolled health experiment on an enormous scale.”
The Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health for New Brunswick has issued a ground-breaking document looking at shale gas development and public health. Released in September 2012, The Chief Medical Officer of Health’s Recommendations Concerning Shale Gas Development in New Brunswick starts from guiding principles of public health, outlines what is known and what is not known about shale gas and health, and sets out recommendations for how the province should proceed in order to protect public health if it moves ahead with shale gas development.
Now Dr. Cleary is speaking out about the province’s Shale Gas Blueprint. “Because health wasn’t identified specifically as an objective or a priority, that does leave me with some cause for concern, Cleary told CBC.
In Taking the Handle off the Fracking Pump, environmental biologist Sandra Steingraber “explores the human rights dimensions of fracking and the role of public health research within that context. Of particular interest will be the ethical question of conducting such research in communities whose residents may be serving, in effect, as involuntary subjects in an ongoing, uncontrolled experiment. How does our moral obligation to prevent harm square with attempts to monitor the evidence for harm? What is the relationship between mitigation and prevention?”
Gas Patch Roulette is one of the few studies to date documenting patterns of illness in people living close to shale gas development. The report was released in October, 2012 by Earthworks Oil and Gas Accountability Project (OGAP.)
The findings of this study stand in strong contrast to statements—often made by industry representatives and policymakers seeking to expand drilling—dismissing claims of health impacts as “personal anecdotes” and isolated incidents.
by Abrahm Lustgarten and Nicholas Kusnetz ProPublica, Sept. 16, 2011, 5:35 p.m. On a summer evening in June 2005, Susan Wallace-Babb went out into a neighbor’s field near her ranch in Western Colorado to close an irrigation ditch. She parked down the rutted double-track, stepped out of her truck into the low-slung sun, took a deep breath and collapsed, unconscious. A natural gas well and a pair of fuel storage tanks sat less than a half-mile away. Later, after Wallace-Babb came to and sought answers, a sheriff’s deputy told her that a tank full of gas condensate—liquid hydrocarbons gathered from the production process—had overflowed into another tank. The fumes must have drifted toward the field where she was working, he suggested. The next morning Wallace-Babb was so sick she could barely move.