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Third Study on Adverse Health Effects of Fracking for Natural Gas

Third Study on Adverse Health Effects of Fracking for Natural Gas thumbnail

A new study out today from Johns Hopkins in Environmental Health Perspectives revealed associations between fracking and various health symptoms including nasal and sinus problems, migraines and fatigue in Pennsylvanians living near areas of natural gas development. The study suggests that residents with the highest exposure to active fracking wells are nearly twice as likely to suffer from the symptoms.

This is the third study released by Hopkins in the past year that connects proximity to fracking sites with adverse health outcomes. Last fall, researchers found an association between fracking and premature births and high-risk pregnancies, and last month, found ties between fracking and asthma.

What’s more, a 2014 investigation revealed how health workers in Pennsylvania were silenced by the state Department of Health (PA-DOH) and told not to respond to health inquiries that used certain fracking “buzzwords.” Documents obtained by Food & Water Watch last year indicate the PA-DOH was inundated with fracking-related health concerns ranging from shortness of breath and skin problems to asthma, nose and throat irritation, which were ignored or pushed aside.

While the industry will no doubt continue to refute the expanding science about the dangers of fracking, we can’t afford to ignore it. The public health and climate impacts of extreme fossil fuel extraction requires bold leadership to keep fossil fuels in the ground and transition swiftly to renewable energy.

Photo: A natural gas rig side by side with homes in Washington County, Pennsylvania.

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17 Comments on "Third Study on Adverse Health Effects of Fracking for Natural Gas"

  1. MikeX11.2 on Sat, 27th Aug 2016 7:28 pm 

    LOL. Not Only is the industry a MASSIVE TAX SPONGE, with 8 Special Tax Rules, it also kills you.

    Shock. Shocked i tell you.

  2. MikeX11.2 on Sat, 27th Aug 2016 7:29 pm 

    The whole carbon industry is the biggest subsidized scam on the American Public.

  3. ghung on Sat, 27th Aug 2016 10:32 pm 

    MikeX11.2 said; “The whole carbon industry is the biggest subsidized scam on the American Public.”

    Nah,, that would be healthcare; the greatest extortion scheme ever devised. With energy you get pretty much what you pay for. Dirt cheap, historically, subsidies included. Try and make your own power and fuel. The country may go bankrupt trying to pay its energy bills, but few individuals will.

    You don’t have to like it.

  4. Go Speed Racer on Sun, 28th Aug 2016 3:19 am 

    So what does Melania see in Donald Trump?

    Five billion dollars, high blood
    pressure, high cholesterol.

  5. Go Speed Racer on Sun, 28th Aug 2016 3:23 am 

    They gotta be pulling up quite a bit of Radon.
    That is bad stuff. Maybe that’s why the industry
    said ‘no, no, not us, we don’t release radon’.

  6. Anonymous on Sun, 28th Aug 2016 5:13 am 

    Im am so glad we keeping studying our most toxic industries, their spills and accidents, and their effects on people and the environment, (mostly bad, ok ALL bad). I predict in a few centuries, we *might* have enough accumulated data to safely conclude all our poisonous tech and engineering is actually bad for us in many, if not most, instances. But at this point, its probably too early to tell. I think we need more studies before we jump to any conclusions though.

  7. peakyeast on Sun, 28th Aug 2016 5:21 am 

    Dont worry – fracking will be illegal as soon as it is not more important than human lives.

    That is how overpopulation plays out…

    The bathroom metaphor again and again…

  8. Davy on Sun, 28th Aug 2016 6:27 am 

    Trade-offs are a way we get reality tested. Trade-offs can make us strong because they force us to choose between two paths. In our modern civilization trade-offs are mostly about one consequence that is a existential predicament from unrestrained embracing of technology and growth. We created a living arrangement with no future and with no plan B. Fossil fuel extraction is dirty and destructive. The newer variety tend to be worse because of the extra effort required. This means more dirty and destructive for less result. Fracking, tar sands, and deep water oil are a messy business. Any fossil fuel extraction is a dirty business and not only the type but the economic and social effects created of a society that becomes dependent on them.

    You can blame and complain. You can get angry and seek retribution but you better acknowledge trade-offs. Without liquid fuels we starve and die. There is no alternative to il and no substitutional sources. There is no alternative in scale of the amount needed in the time needed to transition. We have no new transitions for modern man we only have a return to who and what we once were. We have gone to the pinnacle. We have climbed the mountain and now it is time to ascend back to where we came. Unfortunately we scorched the earth on our climb so really our return is only a return in the sense of returning to proper scale to nature. We altered nature and we altered ourselves and that can never be recovered. So we can’t go forward as we have and we can’t return to what we were we can only find a new balance with a changed nature.

    Fracking is buying us time as are other efforts to produce energy in a variety of ways. Alternatives are a different category but with the same limits and purpose. This is about maintaining the status quo. It is about maintaining minimum operating levels that maintain the status quo. If we breach these levels we may destroy ourselves. We really don’t know where or what these levels are and we don’t know the resulting destruction. We need to know that stopping fracking and other efforts will get us closer to that break point. Reducing coal and mothballing nuclear are just some other efforts getting us closer to that break point. BTW, I am all for less NUK and coal but don’t think for a minute you can avoid trade-offs there either.

    Consequences come with big actions and only very rarely are they positive and almost never completely positive. This is because technology is disruptive. It is disruptive to use or to quit using. One effort that has a completely positive effort longer term is no technology, no growth of population, and no growth of consumption. Yet, that is against everything we stand for. That is a species voluntarily accepting degrowth when it can grow. That is something humans are capable of but it appears not at the global level. We can do this in smaller groups and individuals. That is saying something about who we are and where we are going.

    Fracking is really insignificant in the bigger picture of this growth/decline dance we are in currently. It was a bubble that was part of a financial bubble and oil supply bubble. We are seeing the popping of these bubbles and the dangerous results. The damaging effects to the oil complex are profound and the resulting systematic effects are part of the end game. We damage oils long term viability which in fact was already in decline and decay. Fracking hastened that effort. Fracking also damaged the already dysfunctional and corrupted economic system with a huge source of malinvestment that is bad debt that will need to be mitigated. It may be extended and pretended but there is always cost involved with extending and pretending. We are just now seeing the results. So the reality of fracking is trade-offs. We need every and all efforts to maintain liquid fuels because they are depleting and society is in decline. The consequences of fracking are dirty and disruptive both in the oil industry and the economic system. There is no clear point to make here if you acknowledge trade-offs and fate.

  9. joe on Sun, 28th Aug 2016 8:17 am 

    Nah, I think the biggest scam is the sweet tax deals the elites make with foreign countries to make and sell products abroad that stops Americans from having jobs. Anyone paying attention to the tax wars with the EU? In econonic terms is makes ISIS look like peanuts. TTIP is supposed to solve that. But thats been kicked down the road about 2 years now because of Brexit.

    I guess tight oil fumes is bad, but its hardly a cover up like smoking was. Alcohol is a health scam too. But we know the physical effects. Unlike smoking and alcohol people who live near a fracking well cant choose not to do it. Maybe they can call it secondhand fracking or somthing.

  10. PracticalMaina on Mon, 29th Aug 2016 8:11 am 

    Mike and Ghung, they are one of the same in my eyes. Pollution causes massive increases in healthcare costs. No wonder Rockefeller was into both. Rockefeller Medicine Man is a good read about the corruption of established medicine.

    Ghung, try to make your own fuel? You make your own electricity. You have never tried a biogas rig? Or use hydrolysis to store your solar power? Biomass? According to mother earth magazine wood gassifier vehicles are actually much less polluting than a conventional gas ICE.

  11. ghung on Mon, 29th Aug 2016 8:49 am 

    “Ghung, try to make your own fuel? You make your own electricity. You have never tried a biogas rig? Or use hydrolysis to store your solar power? Biomass?”

    Yeah, PM, I’ve dabbled in all of these things, some with more success than others. I also paid $1.75/gal to fill my wife’s car with fuel yesterday. The vast majority of Americans aren’t going to make their own power, and don’t care about subsidies to fossil fuel companies. Oh, they’ll bitch a lot when gas prices go back up, but will still enjoy some of the cheapest energy prices on the planet for a while. Few will attempt to do the things I’ve done because they have neither the skills nor the means, and their motivations are weakly reactionary. They can’t see past the next few years and most consider a 20-year payback on any investment as absurd.

  12. PracticalMaina on Mon, 29th Aug 2016 8:54 am 

    Haha, well played, I am a hypocrite because other than having a spent battery in my car that was off gassing I have never made hydrogen.
    True of most of the public as well, but when employment is scarce, and junk is abundant, it is amazing what certain individuals can rig up, as you’ve proven with your satellite assembly re-purposing.

  13. PracticalMaina on Mon, 29th Aug 2016 8:57 am 

    What was most successful for ya? I am hoping to finally be in my own homesteading situation soon where I can experiment.

    I hope for a steady yet somewhat accelerated decline, because I think the 08 financial crisis did more for people in my area to try to become self reliant than the ice storm of 98 when most were without power for several weeks in the winter.

  14. peakyeast on Mon, 29th Aug 2016 9:25 am 

    @practicalmania: You are really missing out on the fun..

    Splitting water molecules and collecting the gasses in plastic bags is one of the better types of juvenile fun. I loved it.

  15. peakyeast on Mon, 29th Aug 2016 9:25 am 

    misspelling of your name was not intentional.

  16. ghung on Mon, 29th Aug 2016 9:56 am 

    PM asks; “What was most successful for ya?”

    Most successful is passive solar heating and passive cooling. Takes a big load off of other energy collecting schemes. Good building design and thermal mass are important.

    Second would be solar water pumping, mainly because we have a beautiful spring below the house and a high ridge above the house, allowing pump (PV) => tank (on ridge) => gravity flow to house. Does require a bit of maintenance, but not much. Costs (initial and ongoing) much less than having a drilled well, and easily repaired/maintained.

    Third would likely be solar hot water. I built my own hot water panels and used them to some success for several years. I’ve since replaced the collectors with Chinese-made evacuated-tube collectors. Very productive/efficient, those, and not much to go wrong. Having plenty of storage (1600 liters) was/is one of the keys to that success. The wood stove also heats that water in winter. Virtually all of our DHW and some of our space heat (radiant floor) comes from that tank.

    Fourth would be PV. Works great but is the highest cost, initially and in ongoing maintenance (batteries). Still, a great investment, reliable/redundant, and if one considers that bringing in the grid would have cost us $15k at the time, not too bad, cost-wise. PV system prices have dropped dramatically since we began this journey, so costs look even better these days, allowing upgrading and expanding equipment.

    A friend and I built a bio-diesel system about ten years ago, but its almost impossible to get used veg oil these days (now considered stealing in our area). My tractor and generator ran OK on B-100, and I continued to buy commercial B-100 for several years. Don’t use enough diesel these days to make the effort. Could go back to that, but inputs for home-made bio will still be problematic. At least I know how now.

    Biogas? We made an experimental system that worked, but inputs require a lot of work, and storage-at-pressure can be problematic. We blew up a small vacuum pump trying to compress gas into a propane cylinder 😉 Anyway, we only used 80 gallons of propane last year (stove and clothes dryer), but at least I have some experience there. Not as easy as some blogs make it seem, and appliances have to be configured for (fairly dirty) methane.

    Electrolysis was one of my first science projects as a kid. Nearly blew up the basement. I also ran oxygen generators on submarines, so I’m familiar with the process (and dangers). Again, storage is problematic, as is end use. Better to use surplus PV production in real time, or dump it into the hot water tank via resistance elements.

    I think the reason that most folks don’t jump on ‘renewables’ more is cheap energy prices, and that, in America anyway, most folks don’t stay in their homes for a long time, though that has changed a bit in recent years (up from ~ 6 years to ~10 years I think). They are too afraid they won’t recover their investments. Personally, I think solar hot water should be code-required in areas where it’s viable. Using nasty grid power to heat water in places like Florida is ridiculous. I gave up expecting political solutions to physical problems a long time ago, but that doesn’t mean I can’t move on myself, plodding through life in a local way. At least I’m not worried about my energy bills, going into “retirement”, and into a very uncertain future. Our consumption won’t change much, while most folks will be pining for the ‘good-old-days’ of cheap and readily-available energy (and other stuff).

  17. Davy on Mon, 29th Aug 2016 10:38 am 

    Great comment G and why I stay here. These type of comments have direct impact on my life and serve to guide me into the unknown of collapse.

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