From May through October 2010, members of Pitt Public Health's Center for Healthy Environments and Communities conducted in-depth interviews with 33 people concerned about fracking in their communities. Three- quarters of the residents resided in five of the seven most heavily drilled counties in Pennsylvania.
Follow-up interviews were conducted from January through April 2012 and included 20 of the initial 33 participants. The remainder could not be reached or declined to participate.
"Our study shows that perceptions of health may be affected by fracking regardless of whether this health impact is due to direct exposure to chemical and physical agents resulting from drilling or to the psychosocial stressors of living near drilling activity," said lead author Kyle Ferrar, M.P.H., a doctoral student at Pitt Public Health. "Comprehensive epidemiological studies of all potential adverse consequences of fracking need to be performed, and they should include a close look at psychosocial symptoms, including stress, which cause very real health complications."
Participants reported 59 unique health issues that they attributed to Marcellus Shale development. In addition to stress, these perceived health issues included rashes, headaches, shortness of breath, nausea and sore throats.
"Exposure-based epidemiological studies are needed to address identified health impacts and those that may develop as fracking continues," said Mr. Ferrar.
|Contact: Allison Hydzik|
University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences