February 20, 2018

Health Impacts of Fracking

Report of David O. Carpenter, MD
Institute for Health and the Environment, University at Albany
Concerning Zoning and Land Use Request to Allow Hydraulic Fracturing
in 90+ % of Middlesex Township
14 January 2015

This Report discusses the following topics related to fracking in Middlesex Township, PA:

  • Health effects of air pollution resulting from hydro-fracturing (fracking) activities
  • Health effects of fracking activities on vulnerable populations
  • Health effects of water pollution resulting from fracking activities
  • Health effects of radioactive substances
  • Health effects resulting from noise and light contamination
  • Dangers arising from emergency events at sites with unconventional oil and gas operations

The Report’s conclusions are:
For all of these reasons I conclude that a zoning ordinance that allows unconventional deep shale gas development to occur in over ninety percent (90%) of Middlesex Township, including in close proximity to schools and residences, is at the present time and with current technology not protective of the public health, safety and welfare. Residents and those who regularly visit the Township for work or school will be vulnerable to exposures to chemicals in the air and water. These chemicals will also get in food sources, especially those raised in local farms and gardens, and the exposure will result in increases in rates of cancer, nervous and respiratory system effects, as well as an overall reduction in the quality of life. A similar conclusion was reached after extensive review by the New York State Department of Health (2014), which resulted in a decision to prohibit fracking throughout New York State. Much more research is needed to improve the safety of unconventional deep shale gas extraction and perhaps someday technical advances will allow extraction of shale gas in a fashion that does not cause significant threats to human health. However, that is not the case today. For the sake of the health of the residents of Middlesex Township, especially its children, zoning a community so that unconventional deep shale gas development can occur within less than two miles of schools and close to significant residential development poses a particularly significant public health risk.