Study Finds No Evidence Fracking Is Harming People’s Health

Tim Pearce | Energy Reporter

A new report on the effects of Marcellus shale fracking found that communities in Pennsylvania suffered no negative health impacts and enjoyed a boost to the local economy.

Freelance Health Research Consultant Susan Mickley studied six counties in Pennsylvania from 2000 to 2014, assessing fracking’s affects on the counties’ residents. Mickley studied six counties with the highest concentration of Marcellus shale frack wells in the state, containing between 959 to 1,692 wells.

“There was no identifiable impact on death rates in the six counties attributable to the introduction of unconventional oil and gas development,” the report states. “In fact, the top Marcellus counties experienced declines in mortality rates in most of the indices.”

Energy In Depth, a project of the Independent Petroleum Association of America, commissioned this Mickley’s study. Neither entity was involved in collecting or interpreting the data, however.

The study went on to address common allegations made against unconventional natural gas development, like increasing risk of chronic lower respiratory disease, heart disease and cancer. Mickley found no connection between fracking and any such negative health effects.

Mickley did find that as fracking became more prominent in each county, the local economies grew, as well.

Other studies have linked fracking with diseases such as childhood cancer. University of Colorado (CU) researchers determined such a link in a February report. A team led by CU School of Public Health professor Lisa McKenzie concluded that people ages 5 to 24 living near concentrated oil and gas activity were at increased risk of acute lymphocytic leukemia.

The CU study was disputed by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE).

“I don’t think the study supports the conclusion that they made,” CDPHE Executive Director Larry Wolk told The Denver Post. Wolk said the report’s conclusion was weakly based on only 16 cases.

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