US children born near fracking sites at risk of leukemia, study reveals

us children born near fracking sites at risk of leukemia study reveals
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Publié le 19 août 2022, par Samir | 13 h 16 min
Temps de lecture : 2 minutes

According to a recent study, exposure to fracking and its effects is a significant public health concern. New research published Wednesday found that children living near fracking and other unconventional drilling activities at birth are likely to be at higher risk of childhood leukemia.

US children born near fracking sites at risk of leukemia, study reveals

The peer-reviewed study was published in environmental health perspectives. It researched the link between residential proximity to unconventional oil and gas development and the risk of acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Researchers compared four hundred and five children aged two to seven diagnosed with the diseases in Pennsylvania between 2009 and 2017 to a control group of more than two thousand children without leukemia.

Nicole Diesel, Associate Professor of Epidemiology at Yale School of Public Health and the co-author of the study, said:

« [Fracking] can both use and release chemicals that have been linked to cancer, so the potential for children living near [fracking wells] to be exposed to these chemical carcinogens is a major public health concern. »

What Is Fracking?

As defined by Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC):

« Modern high-volume hydraulic fracturing is a technique used to extract natural gas or oil from shale, and other forms of « tight » rock (in other words, impermeable rock formations that lock in oil and gas) make fossil fuel production difficult). Large quantities of water, chemicals, and sand are blasted into these formations at pressures high enough to crack the rock, allowing the once-trapped gas and oil to flow to the surface. »

The Study

According to the study published by Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP):

« Unconventional oil and gas development (UOGD), commonly referred to as hydraulic fracturing or ‘fracking,’ is a complex process with the potential to release chemical and radiological contaminants into water and air. UOGD is a rapidly expanding energy and petrochemical production source in the United States. Hydraulic fracturing, an essential step in the UOGD process, involves pressurized injections of millions of gallons of water, chemicals, and proppant (e.g., sand) into underground rock formations to create tiny fissures, allowing natural gas to flow to the surface. »

« In addition to the natural gas, the injected fluids and formation water rise to the surface as wastewater. Hundreds of chemicals have been reportedly used in UOGD injection water or detected in wastewater. Some of them have been associated with leukemia. Known and suspected carcinogens include heavy metals, radioactive material, volatile organic compounds (e.g., benzene), and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. In addition to water pollution, UOGD has the potential to generate air pollution during well and road construction and through vehicle emissions from the transport of oil, gas, and wastewater. »

Unconventional Oil and Gas

Last year, Physicians for Social Responsibility revealed internal records which stated that fossil fuel corporations injected PFAS (potentially carcinogenic per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) since 2012. In the US, approximately 17.3 million people in the US including 4 million kids, live in the close vicinity of oil and gas development, as per a geospatial analysis published by the Oil & Gas Threat Map in May.

The alarming research contributes to a developing body of literature recording the detrimental health and environmental effects of fracking and other types of fossil fuel production.

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