Fracking, Shale Gas
and Health

Fracking and Health Awareness Project

Position statements

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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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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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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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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NB Chief Medical Officer says health is crucial in shale gas decisions

05/12/2013

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.

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Issue Summary: Health, Hydraulic Fracturing and Shale Gas Extraction

04/07/2013

Shale gas and health risks Shale gas extraction including hydraulic fracturing requires networks of open-air industrial sites spread across the landscape. Thousands of wells and well pad sites generate industrial pollutants at each stage. Increasing evidence indicates that shale gas development using high volume hydraulic fracturing with horizontal drilling is a source of serious multiple health concerns. Gas field exposures from toxins in water, air and potentially soil are involuntary and unavoidable. Drinking water and health Potential aquifer water contamination from fracking fluid compounds (see graph page 2) and from toxins released from shale poses both immediate and long-term health risks. A three-year US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) study of wells in Pavillion, Wyoming found 10 compounds used in fracking, including benzene, a known carcinogen, at 50 times the safe level for human consumption.[i] The EPA concluded that fracking compounds were the likely source of contamination. Water test results from Stony Creek, NB, a gas development area, showed well water contaminated with thermogenic methane, diesel and barium, at levels unsafe for drinking. [ii] Industry statistics reveal that 5% of wells leak within one year; 60% after 30 years. [iii] New research shows that pathways between the shale layer and aquifers […]

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Hydraulic Fracking a Danger to Water, Food, Farmland: NFU Calls For Moratorium

01/31/2013

(Rimbey, Alberta, February 23, 2012)  “Many farmers in my area who either have direct experience with the destructive nature of hydro-fracking technology on their water wells, or who have neighbours who have been affected have come to me with their concerns” says Jan Slomp, Rimbey area dairy farmer and Region 7 (Alberta) Coordinator for the National Farmers Union (NFU). “We are in the heart of Alberta’s oil and gas country where our ability to produce good, wholesome food is at risk of being compromised by the widespread, virtually unregulated use of this dangerous process.” At NFU Region 7’s recent public meeting dozens of concerned farm families heard how their neighbours, the Campbell family from Crestomere, Alberta, had their water well contaminated by highly toxic compounds, which they clearly linked to the fracking of a nearby oil and gas well.  Several other attendees then brought forward their stories of losing water wells to fracking near their own farms.  “Not many of these stories get made public because the oil and gas companies usually force farmers to sign confidentiality agreements in return for replacement of their water wells” said Slomp. Iain Aitken, an Alberta cattle rancher and local NFU member observed, “Farmers […]

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Clean air, clean water necessities for health: EHANS Submission to Nova Scotia Fracking Review

07/10/2012

Environmental Health Association of Nova Scotia Submission to Review of Hydraulic Fracturing for Shale Gas June 5, 2011 I am writing on behalf of the Environmental Health Association of Nova Scotia (EHANS). EHANS is a province wide organization that focuses on environmental impacts on human health and promoting actions and policies to prevent environmentally related illnesses.  For 25 years, EHANS has focused on four fundamental necessities for health — clean air, clean food, clean water and less toxic products. Fracking threatens two of these essentials – clean air and clean water. EHANS believes fracking and shale gas development present risks to health that are serious, widespread and long lasting. We believe that fracking, however it is conducted, poses serious risks to public health and the environment, and that these risks at this time outweigh any possible benefit. Clean air and clean water are our most basic resources. There are no alternative sources of clean air or clean water. The government’s proposed review of fracking does not even mention health impacts. This is a major omission. There are serious, immediate and long-term health risks from fracking and shale gas development. Some of these risks include: Smog measured at higher levels than in […]

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Moncton emergency physician says shale gas is a public health issue

06/28/2012

Dr. Angie LeGresley, an emergency physician at Moncton hospital, shared her thoughts about shale gas at a June 2 rally in Moncton, NB. Hi, my name is Angie Legresley and I have been an emergency physician in Moncton since 1998. I want to thank the organizers for asking me to speak. In the Moncton emergency dept we see patients of all ages with both acute and chronic illness as well as patients from all over the province…trauma patients in particular who are transferred to us. I say that to remind you that emergency as well as family physicians are on the front line to deal with any public health threat.  I realised there was controversy about shale gas and decided to look into it from a public health perspective, not a financial perspective..  The more I read, the more interested and concerned I became….partly  because it is difficult to get credible  information re all of the possible public health implications.  From my perspective as an emergency physician, I am concerned not just about the possible long term effects of exposure to various chemicals and  carcinogens in the air and water but also the short term risks related to increase air, noise and light pollution, […]

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