254106 Public health impact of hydraulic fracturing

Tuesday, November 1, 2011: 8:30 AM

Kathleen Hoke Dachille, JD , University of Maryland School of Law, Baltimore, MD
Hydraulic fracturing (commonly known as “hydro-fracking” or “fracking”) is a method of extracting natural gas from coal beds and shale gas formations. The hydraulic fracturing process requires injecting large quantities of water, sand and chemicals (known as “fracking fluid”) at high pressure deep into the ground, fracturing the rock, releasing the gas and allowing it to flow to the well. While hydraulic fracturing offers potential benefits in the way of cleaner-burning fuel, lower energy costs and reduced price volatility of natural gas market, reduced domestic reliance on foreign sources of energy, potential job creation and stimulation of local economy, and lucrative leasing payments and gas royalties to landowners, the public health impact of hydraulic fracturing has often been ignored.

This presentation looks at the public health impact of hydraulic fracturing, including water usage, toxic chemicals and radioactive materials, air contamination, roads and truck traffic, environmental footprint and land usage, occupational risks, noise, and seismic activity. Additionally, federal and state regulations (and regulatory gaps) are briefly discussed. Although hydraulic fracturing is already taking place, the “precautionary principle” should be employed. Given the potentially deleterious public health impacts that hydraulic fracturing may have, further research is needed before the use of hydraulic fracturing is expanded.

Learning Areas:
Environmental health sciences
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines

Learning Objectives:
Identify the public health impacts of "fracking"

Keywords: Environmental Health, Environmental Justice

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have provided research in this area.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.