Quantcast
Energy

New Studies Expose Public Health Risks From Fracking

As New York state ponders whether to lift its moratorium on fracking, in place since 2009, two new reports were released which compiled the results of numerous studies on its potential health and environmental impacts. The evidence was overwhelming, as the health care professionals and scientists involved urged Governor Andrew Cuomo to enact a three-to-five-year extension of the moratorium.

Concerned Health Professionals of New York assembled results of numerous studies to show why New York should keep its fracking moratorium in place. Photo: Concerned Health Professionals of NY

The studies offered a response to statements from Cuomo such as "You can have credentialed academics on both sides—one side says they have more credentialed experts than the other side" and “I’m not a scientist. Let the scientists decide. It’s very complicated, very controversial, academic studies come out all different ways. Let the experts decide.”

The experts have largely decided that evidence of risks to citizens and communities from fracking are compelling.

One study, released by PSE Healthy Energy, pointed out that, with the fracking boom still young, "research continues to lag behind the rapid scaling of shale gas development." It points to an enormous increase in the amount of scientific research and surge in peer-reviewed scientific papers in just the last two years. It reviewed about 400 of those papers.

"In fact, of all the available scientific peer-reviewed literature on the impacts of shale gas development approximately 73 percent has been published since January 1, 2013," said its report. "What this tells us is that the scientific community is only now beginning to understand the impacts of this industry on the environment and human populations. Hazards and risks have been identified, but many data gaps still persist. Importantly, there remains a dearth of quantitative epidemiology that assesses associations between risk factors and human health outcomes among populations."

The study says that "there is now a lot more known about the impacts of shale gas development than when New York's de facto moratorium went into effect" and provides what it calls "a cursory overview" of currently available studies. It suggested that despite that, the evidence is fairly compelling. It found that 96 percent of all papers published on health outcomes point to possible negative impacts, that 87 percent of original research studies on health outcomes show potential risks, that 95 percent of original research studies on air quality show elevated levels of air pollutants and that 72 percent of original studies on water quality show actual or potential contamination.

“Scientists are just now beginning to understand the health and environmental dimensions of shale gas development," said PSE Healthy Energy executive director Seth B.C. Shonkoff. "While the majority of studies published indicate that there are risks to human health, there are still very few epidemiological studies that evaluate or model actual health impacts. You don’t get what you expect, you get what you inspect, and it is wise for New York to continue to look before it leaps and wait for the information it needs to make an educated decision.”

The second study, an update of the Compendium of Scientific, Medical and Media Findings Demonstrating Risks and Harms of Fracking by the Concerned Health Professionals of NY, similarly looks at results of numerous studies to arrive at its conclusions, exploring sixteen areas of potential harm from fracking.

"A significant body of evidence has emerged to demonstrate that these activities are inherently dangerous to people and their communities," it says. "Risks include adverse impacts on water, air, agriculture, public health and safety, property values, climate stability and economic vitality."

It too points to the dramatic increase in the amount of recent research into fracking impacts, saying that research is just catching  up with the industry, and summarizes key studies. Given that ongoing increase, it says that it will update its compendium every six months.

“The longer we look at fracking, the more trouble we find," said Dr. Larysa Dyrszka, a co-founder of Concerned Health Professionals of NY. "There is no split debate within the scientific literature. Given the avalanche of recent studies showing inherent problems and harms of fracking, Governor Cuomo must enact a minimum three-to-five-year moratorium in order to protect the water and health of all New Yorkers.”

Coming on the heels of these two omnibus studies is another new study—PSE Healthy Energy estimated that one new study has been released each day in the last two years—from Environment New York, titled The Spreading Shadow of the Shale Gas Boom: Fracking's Growing Proximity to Day Cares, Schools and Hospitals. It estimates that in the Marcellus and Utica shale region which extends underneath New York, over 400 permits have been issued to drill within a mile of such facilities, with Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia already allowing fracking in the region and Maryland set to begin. Oil and gas companies have already applied for more than 270 well permits in New York, poised to begin drilling when and if the moratorium is lifted, and the study says that as many as 56,000 fracking wells could be drilled in the state.

“We have seen how dangerous gas drilling can be in other states—from harmful air and water pollution to fires, blowouts and explosions,” said Environment New York director Heather Leibowitz. “This report shows that if fracking is allowed into New York, our vulnerable populations could be exposed to unacceptable risks.”

“Governor Cuomo has announced that the state's fracking health review, on which he has said his decision hinges, will be completed before the end of the year,”  she said. “However, we already have strong evidence that fracking threatens the health and safety of our children, elderly and infirm. We’re calling on our state officials to finally ban fracking, for the health and safety of our most vulnerable populations and all New Yorkers.”

"That hydrofracking could occur in close proximity to our schools, hospitals and daycare centers across New York State is horrendous,” said New York State Senator Tony Avella. “These sites house our most vulnerable populations and this report clearly illustrates the risk at which we would be putting those most deserving of our protection if we were to allow hydrofracking in New York."

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

New York Assembly Overwhelmingly Passes Fracking Moratorium

Hundreds of New Yorkers Rally Against Fracking, Call for Renewable Energy

How Fracking Just Got Worse for Your Health

 

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Climate
Global warming in Iceland. Getty Images

Arctic Warming Amplifies Extreme Weather Events Globally: Wildfires, Flooding Likely to Be More Severe

Warming in the Arctic is causing the jet stream, a belt of air held "up" around the Arctic by the temperature difference between the Arctic and warmer climates, to weaken and slow.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
DWalker44 / Getty Images

Tons of Plastic Trash Enter the Great Lakes Every Year – Where Does It Go?

By Matthew J. Hoffman

Awareness is rising worldwide about the scourge of ocean plastic pollution, from Earth Day 2018 events to the cover of National Geographic magazine. But few people realize that similar concentrations of plastic pollution are accumulating in lakes and rivers. One recent study found microplastic particles—fragments measuring less then five millimeters—in globally sourced tap water and beer brewed with water from the Great Lakes.

Keep reading... Show less
Science
Gorancakmazovic / Getty Images

Blotting Out the Sun to Save the Earth? Seriously?

By Jeff Turrentine

Science fiction doesn't always stay fictional. Space exploration, robots and self-driving cars are just a few of the modern-day wonders that once existed only as plot devices or fantastical theories. Our capacity for turning science-fictional notions into the stuff of everyday life has grown with each new generation of scientists and microchips, such that more and more ideas previously deemed too far "out there" are now actually here, or at least technologically plausible.

Keep reading... Show less
Climate
Flames of the Simi Valley fire ravage a Southern California mountain side on Oct. 29, 2012. U.S. Air Force / Senior Master Sgt. Dennis W. Goff

'Hothouse Earth' Co-Author Says 'People Will Look Back on 2018 as the Year When Climate Reality Hit'

By Jessica Corbett

Amid a flurry of "breathless headlines" about warnings in a new study that outlines a possible "Hothouse Earth" scenario, one co-author optimistically expressed his belief that "people will look back on 2018 as the year when climate reality hit."

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Popular
Kodachrome25 / Getty Images

Roof-to-Garden: How to Irrigate with Rainwater

By Brian Barth

The average American household uses about 320 gallons of water per day, a third for irrigation and other outdoor uses. Collecting the water flowing down your downspouts in rainstorms so you can use it to irrigate in dry periods is often touted as a simple way to cut back. But setting up a functional rainwater irrigation system—beyond the ubiquitous 55-gallon barrels under the downspout, which won't irrigate much more than a flower bed or two—is a fairly complicated DIY project.

Keep reading... Show less
Health
A family wears face masks as they walk through the smoke filled streets after the Thomas wildfire swept through Ventura, California on Dec. 6, 2017. MARK RALSTON / AFP / Getty Images

How to Protect Your Children From Wildfire Smoke

By Cecilia Sierra-Heredia

We're very careful about what our kids eat, but what about the air they breathe?

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Health
Hero Images / Getty Images

Study: Children Have Better Nutrition When They Live Near Forests

Spending time in nature is known to boost mental and emotional health. Now, a new global study has found that children in 27 developing nations tend to have more diverse diets and better nutrition when they live near forests.

The paper, published Wednesday in Science Advances, provides evidence that forest conservation can be an important tool in promoting better nutrition in developing countries, rather than clear-cutting forests for more farmland.

Keep reading... Show less
Health
Navy torpedo bomber spraying DDT just above the trees in Goldendale, WA in 1962. USDA Forest Service

Maternal DDT Exposure Linked to Increased Autism Risk

A study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry Thursday found that mothers exposed to the banned pesticide DDT were nearly one-third more likely to have children who developed autism, Environmental Health News reported.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!