PITTSBURGH, April 29, 2013 Pennsylvania residents living near unconventional natural gas developments using hydraulic fracturing, known by the slang term "fracking," attribute several dozen health concerns and stressors to the Marcellus Shale developments in their area, according to a long-term analysis by University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health researchers.
Reported health impacts persist and increase over time, even after the initial drilling activity subsides, they noted. The study, which will be published in the May issue of the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health, did not include clinical examinations of the participants' physical health or any environmental tests. Researchers surveyed those who believe their health has been affected by hydraulic fracturing activities for self-reported symptoms and stressors. The most commonly cited concern was stress, which 76 percent of participants said they'd experienced. Among the leading causes of stress reported by the participants were feelings of being taken advantage of, having their concerns and complaints ignored, and being denied information or misled.
"Many of these stressors can be addressed immediately by the gas drilling industry and by government," said senior author Bernard Goldstein, M.D., emeritus professor and former dean of Pitt Public Health.
"Scientific literature shows that if people do not trust companies doing work in their communities, or believe that the government is misleading them, there is a heightened perception of risk," said Dr. Goldstein, also a member of the National Academies' committees to investigate shale gas drilling in the U.S. and Canada. "Community disruption and psychosocial stress have been well-documented as a result of environmental issues like oil spills and superfund sites. A strong response by the Pennsylvania Department of Health to address concerns about health impacts of hydrofracturing
|Contact: Allison Hydzik|
University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences