Study Finds Unconventional Natural Gas Development Associated With Hospitalizations for Urinary Problems

Various studies have indicated
that an increase in unconventional natural gas development can lead to a
paralleled rise in certain health problems, including asthma, childhood cancer
and pneumonia in the elderly. However, these studies all
targeted specific conditions, and no broad analysis had yet been performed to
look for additional associations that may be less obvious. Researchers at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry and
Oregon State University College of Public Health and Human Sciences recently
used data from the Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s Pennsylvania
Unconventional Gas Wells Geodatabase of the Marcellus Shale and hospital
discharge records from 2003 to 2014 from the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost
Containment Council PHC4 database to determine if the increase in unconventional
natural gas development in certain areas led to an increase in hospitalizations
by types of diagnosis. The time frame spans the period before Marcellus gas
well development began to the period after the height of well drilling. The PCH4 data included
the patient’s county of residence and the primary diagnosis.

Study Finds Low-level Exposure to Produced Water has Minimal Effect on Aquatic Life

The hydraulic fracturing process requires water and chemicals to be pumped beneath the earth’s surface at high pressures to “free” natural gas that is trapped in tight rock formations. When the fluid comes back up to the surface, it is known as produced water. Produced water can contain a number of chemicals including, but not limited to, ions, heavy metals, inorganic solids, and trace radionuclides. When produced water is accidentally spilled or otherwise discharged, it can harm the environment, especially aquatic life.

Noise Pollution from Unconventional Oil and Gas Developments May Have an Effect on Public Health

Shale gas development, like many other heavy industries, is known to produce noise. Construction equipment, motors, engines, and traffic associated with well pad development can all create sounds that may prove to be nuisances. And while residents near wells have raised concerns regarding noise pollution from shale gas development, limited research on the subject has been conducted.

Unconventional Natural Gas Developments Associated with Higher Levels of Pediatric Asthma Cases

Pediatric asthma is a common medical condition that is often related to air quality. Past studies have shown that an increase in unconventional natural gas developments such as hydraulic fracturing can lead to a paralleled increase in air pollutants in the areas of such developments, and these pollutants can potentially affect the respiratory health of those living nearby. Thus, researchers at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry and Oregon State University College of Public Health and Human Sciences utilized data from the Pennsylvania Marcellus Shale and Pennsylvania Department of Health from 2003 to 2014 to see if the increase in unconventional natural gas developments has led to an increase in pediatric (ages 18 and under) asthma-related hospital visits. Consideration of zip code was included in order to distinguish rural and urban areas, as urban areas are known to have higher levels of air pollutants even prior to the introduction of unconventional natural gas developments. Urban areas were then excluded from this study. A total of 29 Pennsylvania counties were included in the study, covering 5649 unconventional natural gas development wells and 15,837 pediatric asthma-related hospitalizations.

Study Gauges Attitudes towards Shale Development in China

Researchers at various universities in Sichuan and Beijing, China collected data regarding perceptions of residents close to shale gas developments in the Changning-Weiyuan area of Sichuan Basin. China is the world’s third country to have shale gas commercial development, but there have been few studies of the public’s perception of the expansion of this field. Shale gas is less carbon-intensive than other fossil fuels, and it improves local economies. However, shale gas can possibly also pollute underground water sources. Waste products from shale gas developments also contain numerous harmful chemicals.

Study Finds Water Near O&G Development Could Have Negative Health Impacts

Researchers at Yale’s School of Public Health studied the relationship between proximity of residence to an unconventional oil and gas well (UO&G) and water contamination as well as negative health symptoms.

Sixty-six households in Ohio were included in the study. Unconventional oil and gas wells have been becoming increasingly common in the United States, and they can have potential impacts on the neighborhood’s health in the event of leaks. Leaks can result from deteriorating or poorly constructed wells, spills, or improper disposal of waste products, resulting in toxic chemicals entering water sources. In this study, water was surveyed for 15 organic compounds known to affect health. Health surveys assessed for respiratory, dermal, neurological, gastrointestinal, and general symptoms. Elliott et al.

Study Finds Relation Between Shale Gas Development and Prenatal Issues

Researcher Elaine Hill from the University of Rochester Medical Center School of Medicine and Dentistry studied childbirths of mothers living close to a Pennsylvania shale gas well between 2003 and 2010. Relatively recent developments and extensive expansions of unconventional gas production such as hydraulic fracturing have been controversial due to possible negative health consequences resulting from these practices. There are mixed reviews regarding the costs and benefits of shale gas developments (SGDs). There is strong evidence that SGDs provide numerous economic benefits but may come with environmental costs, though these costs may be fewer than coal-based fuel sources. Air pollution is known to be associated with worse birth outcomes and increased health problems, especially when air pollution is from coal-fired power plants.

Chinese Study Identifies Risk and Mitigation Tactics for Shale Development

In recent years, the Chinese government has authorized and encouraged significant expansions to the Chinese shale gas industry in order to increase energy production. However, gas production also results in the production of hazardous wastes including oil-based drill cuttings (OBDC). OBDC include diesel oil, silt, heavy metals, and other complex formulations. Some of these components of OBDC are known to be harmful to the environment and/or people. Thus, it is critical that the amount of these pollutants and hazardous wastes be monitored and minimized.

Study Indicates Methane in Groundwater Not Caused by Natural Gas Development

According to measurements conducted by researchers at the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies at Yale University over the course of two years, changes in the amount of methane in the area’s water were not a result of the area’s shale gas development (SGD). Methane is a non-toxic component of natural gas, but it is flammable and can be explosive. Thus, for safety reasons, it is important to ensure that methane is not being leaked from SGDs. Past studies have shown potential contamination of groundwater with methane as a result of SGDs, but these studies lacked sufficient predrill data and therefore could not prove that the methane levels were actually the result of the introduction of SGDs. These past studies also recommended prospective studies for more robust analyses because there are naturally occurring sources of methane in these same groundwater sources.