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Article from Bristol University about the need to evaluate regulatory approaches and the need for a precautionary approach
A Natural Resources Defense Council booklet
Not directly about Fracking but an article from the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health about how a more ecological approach from Public Health with respect to well-being and health . Mentions fracking as an example.
Study of levels of volatile compounds .
New York State review public health recommending that fracking should not proceed .
Letter in the Lancet
A governmental document on assessing evidence for policy
Article about endocrine disrupting chemicals and fracking
A commentary about fracking
Article by Paul Mobbs an independent environmental consultant, investigator, author and lecturer.
An article about the occupational risks of silica from a occupational hygiene magazine .
Occupational Safety and Health Administration ( equivalent of HSE in the USA) document about the hazards of the industry .
Comment from the Canadian Medical Association
An article about the challenges of environmental change and brain health . Fracking is mentioned .
A review from the British Occupational Hygiene Society’s Annual Conference 2014
Article from the Lancet
“A growing body of evidence shows that people both near and far from oil and gas drilling are exposed to fracking-related air pollution that can cause at least five major types of health impacts, according to a new comprehensive analysis of scientific studies to-date by the Natural Resources Defense Council. The health impacts include respiratory problems, birth defects, blood disorders, cancer and nervous system impacts, raising serious concerns for workers and people living closest to wells, as well as entire regions with high volumes of oil and gas activity.”
“Hydraulic fracturing (‘fracking’) and other well stimulation methods have led to a rapid expansion of oil and gas development in the United States. This expansion has brought oil and gas development closer to backyards and communities and increased the potential for human exposure to new contaminants and threats. At the same time, a growing body of new research points to health threats from unconventional oil and gas development and fracking in particular. Although health discussions, particularly in eastern states, have focused on drinking water contamination, there is mounting evidence for a range of health threats from air pollution as well.
Report prepared by Lancashire Public Health for Lancashire County Council
All-Party Parliamentary Group on Occupational Safety and Health Report and recommendations
Current scientific evidence for UNGD that demonstrates associations between adverse health outcomes directly with environmental health hazards resulting from UNGD activities generally lacks methodological rigour. Importantly, however, there is also no evidence to rule out such health impacts. While the current evidence in the scientific research reporting leaves questions unanswered about the actual environmental health impacts, public health concerns remain intense. This is a clear gap in the scientific knowledge that requires urgent attention.
A letter sent in 2014 to President Obama from 1000 health professionals
“We briefly describe how toxicology can inform the discussion and debate of the merits of hydraulic fracturing by providing information on the potential toxicity of the chemical and physical agents associated with this process, individually and in combination. We consider upstream activities related to bringing chemical and physical
agents to the site,on-site activities including drilling of wells and containment of agents injected into or produced from the well, and downstream activities including the flow/removal of hydrocarbon products and of produced water from the site. A broad variety of chemical and physical agents are involved. As the industry expands
this has raised concern about the potential for toxicological effects on ecosystems, workers, and the general public. Response to these concerns requires a concerted and collaborative toxicological assessment. This assessment should take into account the different geology in areas newly subjected to hydraulic fracturing as well as
evolving industrial practices that can alter the chemical and physical agents of toxicological interest. The potential for ecosystem or human exposure to mixtures of these agents presents a particular toxicological and public health challenge. These data are essential for developing a reliable assessment of the potential risks to the environment and to human health of the rapidly increasing use of hydraulic fracturing and deep underground horizontal drilling techniques for tightly bound shale gas and other fossil fuels. Input from toxicologists will be most effective when employed early in the process, before there are unwanted consequences to the environment
and human health, or economic losses due to the need to abandon or rework costly initiatives.”
Comment by Professor Anthony Seaton.
“Biocides are critical components of hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) fluids used for unconventional shale gas
development. Bacteria may cause bioclogging and inhibit gas extraction, produce toxic hydrogen sulfide, and induce corrosion leading to downhole equipment failure. The use of biocides such as glutaraldehyde and quaternary ammonium compounds has spurred a public concern and debate among regulators regarding the impact of inadvertent releases into the environment on ecosystem and human health. This work
provides a critical review of the potential fate and toxicity of biocides used in hydraulic fracturing operations. We identified the following physicochemical and toxicological aspects as well as knowledge gaps that should be considered when selecting biocides: (1) uncharged species will dominate in the aqueous phase and be subject to degradation and transport whereas charged species will sorb to soils and be less bioavailable; (2) many biocides are short-lived or degradable through abiotic and biotic processes, but some may transform into more toxic or persistent compounds; (3) understanding of biocides’ fate under downhole conditions (high pressure, temperature, and salt and organic matter concentrations) is limited; (4) several biocidal alternatives exist, but high cost, high energy demands, and/or formation of disinfection byproducts limits their use. This review may serve as a guide for environmental risk assessment and identification of microbial control strategies to help develop a sustainable path for managing hydraulic fracturing fluids.”
There is evidence of potential environmental public health risks associated with shale gas development. Several studies suggest that shale gas development contributes to ambient air concentrations of pollutants known to be associated with increased risk of morbidity and mortality. Similarly, an increasing body of studies suggest that water contamination risks exist through a variety of environmental pathways, most notably during wastewater transport and disposal, and via poor zonal isolation of gases and fluids due to structural integrity impairment of cement in gas wells.
“With massive reservoirs of oil and gas trapped in the rocks under our feet, the oil industry is eager to get fracking. But Hazards editor Rory O’Neill warns US evidence of chemical related deaths, a soaring fatality rate and widespread over-exposure to lung wrecking, cancer-causing dust, has raised seriously unhealthy questions.”
“In Austria, shale gas exploration activities came to an end in 2012 after an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) was made mandatory by law for hydraulic fracturing following public and political protests. Subsequently, the oil and gas company OMV abandoned their plan of developing a new, supposedly clean fracking method and implementing it in Austria due to cost reasons. The OMV linked this decision to the Amendment of the EIA act. In the UK, the government continues to push the development of a shale gas industry despite of public protests. Government and proponents deem the regulations in place as sufficient to safeguard the integrity of the environment and the health of residents and workers.”
“Naturally occurring radionuclides are widely distributed in the earth’s crust, so it’s no surprise that mineral and hydrocarbon extraction processes, conventional and unconventional alike, often produce some radioactive waste.1
Radioactive drilling waste is a form of TENORM (short for “technologically enhanced naturally occurring
radioactive material”)—that is, naturally occurring radioactive material (NORM) that has been concentrated or otherwise made more available for human exposure through anthropogenic means.2 Both the rapidity and the extent of the U.S. natural gas drilling boom have brought heightened scrutiny to the issues of radioactive exposure and waste management.”
The report makes a number of recommendations:
a Public Health England needs to continue to work with regulators to ensure all aspects of shale gas extraction and related activities are properly risk assessed as part of the planning and permitting process
b Baseline environmental monitoring is needed to facilitate the assessment of the impact of shale gas extraction on the environment and public health. There should also be consideration of the development of emission inventories as part of the regulatory regime
c Effective environmental monitoring in the vicinity of shale gas extraction sites is needed throughout the lifetime of development, production and post-production
d It is important to ensure that broader public health and socioeconomic impacts such as increased traffic, impacts on local infrastructure and worker migration are considered
e Chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing fluid should be publicly disclosed and risk assessed prior to use. It is useful to note that any potential risk to public health and the environment from hydraulic fracturing chemicals will be dependent on the route of exposure, total amount and concentration, and eventual fate of any such chemicals. It is
expected that these aspects will be considered as part of the regulatory environmental permitting process
f The type and composition of the gas extracted is likely to vary depending on the underlying geology and this necessitates each site to be assessed on a case-by-case basis
g Evidence from the US suggests that the maintenance of well integrity, including postoperations, and appropriate storage and management of hydraulic fracturing fluids and wastes are important factors in controlling risks and appropriate regulatory control is needed
h Characterisation of potentially mobilised natural contaminants is needed including naturally occurring radioactive materials (NORM) and dissolved minerals
“A robust baseline and long term monitoring of environmental and health conditions is required in order to reassure communities and to understand the cumulative and long term effects”
Letter signed by senior doctors in 2014 calling for the precautionary principle to be used with respect to Fracking.
“This report is a joint effort of ComingClean and Global Community Monitor, in collaboration with local and national nonprofit organizations and community groups listed on page 12. Coming Clean is a nationwide collaborative of environmental health and justice experts workingto reform the chemical and energy industries so they are no longer a source of harm. Global Community Monitor works worldwide to empower communities at risk with the technology and expertise to document toxic exposures.”
An interesting powerpoint presentation about aquifers and fracking risks.
Commentary from Dr McGarron and Dr King in Australia .
“There is a need for fully informed public debate on the future of the UNGD in Australia and doctors must be willing to educate themselves and become involved. A controversial industry has been allowed to unfold with a striking lack of Australian health studies. There may be a dilemma for government with regard to royalty revenues versus public health but we, as doctors, must ensure that health takes priority.”
“Results: Expert panels achieved consensus at least for probable (20%) EDC causation for IQ loss and associated intellectual disability, autism, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, childhood obesity, adult obesity, adult diabetes, cryptorchidism, male infertility, and mortality associated with reduced testosterone. Accounting for probability of causation and using the midpoint of each range for probability of causation, Monte Carlo simulations produced a median cost of €157 billion (or $209 billion, corresponding to 1.23% of EU gross domestic product) annually across 1000 simulations. Notably, using the lowest end of the probability range for each relationship in the Monte Carlo simulations produced a median range of €109 billion that differed modestly from base case probability inputs.
Conclusions: EDC exposures in the EU are likely to contribute substantially to disease and dysfunction across the life course with costs in the hundreds of billions of Euros per year. These estimates represent only those EDCs with the highest probability of causation; a broader analysis would have produced greater estimates of burden of disease and costs. (J Clin Endocrinol Metab 100: 1245–1255, 2015)”
“The oil and gas extraction industry is rapidly growing due to horizontal drilling and high volume hydraulic fracturing (HVHF). This growth has provided new jobs and economic stimulus. The industry occupational fatality rate is 2.5 times higher than the construction industry and 7 times higher than general industry; however injury rates are lower than the construction industry,
suggesting injuries are not being reported. Some workers are exposed to crystalline silica at hazardous levels, above occupational health standards. Other hazards (particulate, benzene, noise,radiation) exist. In this article, we review occupational fatality and injury rate data; discuss research looking at root causes of fatal injuries and hazardous exposures; review interventions aimed at improving occupational health and safety; and discuss information gaps and areas of needed research. We also describe Wyoming efforts to improve occupational safety in this industry, as a case example.”
“The trial of the Parrs’ lawsuit began on April 7 and lasted two weeks. Both sides called expert witnesses, who offered contradictory opinions on the effects of gas and oil emissions. According to scientists interviewed by InsideClimate News and the Center for Public Integrity, air monitoring in Texas, and across the nation, is so flawed that scientists don’t fully understand how the industry’s emissions affect public health.”
“As investigations of shale gas extraction in the US have continually suggested, assurances of safety are no proxy for adequate protection.”
“The purpose of this paper is to bust the gas industry’s myths about coal seam gas (CSG). The gas industry has been prolific in putting out exaggerated claims about CSG’s economic benefits while at the same time staying almost completely silent on the health and environmental risks. This paper will look at both the economic claims and the health and environmental risks and will show that, while the economic benefits are likely to be relatively small, a lot more work needs to be done to assess the health and environmental risks. There is little for Australia to gain by rushing into an expansion of CSG operations.”
“On October 18, 2013, the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Maryland Institute for Applied Environmental Health (MIAEH), School of Public Health, University of Maryland, College Park to conduct an assessment of the potential public health impacts associated with drilling in the Marcellus Shale in Maryland and to provide a Marcellus Shale Public Health Report. This document is the final report. “
“It is concluded that a wide range of aspects of shale gas development could pose significant environmental risks. The risks associated with visual impacts and potential impacts on biodiversity are particularly relevant to the development of shale gas in Maryland, in view of the biodiversity and natural resources of Garrett and Allegany Counties.” (more…)
“Background: Birth defects are a leading cause of neonatal mortality. Natural gas development (NGD) emits several potential teratogens, and U.S. production of natural gas is expanding.
Objectives: We examined associations between maternal residential proximity to NGD and birth outcomes in a retrospective cohort study of 124,842 births between 1996 and 2009 in rural Colorado.
Methods: We calculated inverse distance weighted natural gas well counts within a 10-mile radius of maternal residence to estimate maternal exposure to NGD. Logistic regression, adjusted for maternal and infant covariates, was used to estimate associations with exposure tertiles for congenital heart defects (CHDs), neural tube defects (NTDs), oral clefts, preterm birth, and term low birth weight. The association with term birth weight was investigated using multiple linear regression.
Results: Prevalence of CHDs increased with exposure tertile, with an odds ratio (OR) of 1.3 for the highest tertile (95% CI: 1.2, 1.5); NTD prevalence was associated with the highest tertile ofexposure (OR = 2.0; 95% CI: 1.0, 3.9, based on 59 cases), compared with the absence of any gas wells within a 10-mile radius. Exposure was negatively associated with preterm birth and positively associated with fetal growth, although the magnitude of association was small. No association was found between exposure and oral clefts.
Conclusions: In this large cohort, we observed an association between density and proximity of natural gas wells within a 10-mile radius of maternal residence and prevalence of CHDs and possibly NTDs. Greater specificity in exposure estimates is needed to further explore these associations.
Citation: McKenzie LM, Guo R, Witter RZ, Savitz DA, Newman LS, Adgate JL. 2014. Birth
outcomes and maternal residential proximity to natural gas development in rural Colorado. Environ
Health Perspect 122:412–417; http://dx.doi.org/10.1289/ehp.1306722″