4393.1 Fracking - Public Health Implications of Shale Gas Development

Tuesday, October 30, 2012: 4:30 PM - 6:00 PM
New drilling technology – horizontal drilling and high-volume hydraulic fracturing of shale (fracking) has dramatically increased our natural gas resources and made them available at low cost. However, this technique and the sheer scale of shale gas development activities may pose threats to the environment and to the public’s health. There is evidence that some of the chemicals and solids used in the drilling fluids can pose human health risks, possibly even at low concentrations. There is also concern that the deep groundwater aquifers have been contaminated from chemicals as a result of the technology, and that the process may have allowed underground contaminants to seep into ground water and in some cases well water. Even routine development activities, such as disposal of produced water and on-road vehicle emissions from trucking in some 3-5 million gallons of water per fracked well may create health hazards. Other more indirect health risks include fugitive greenhouse gas leakages. The purpose of this session is to provide educators, clinicians and public health practitioners with a technical overview of shale gas development, as well as an understanding of public health implications, needs for further research, and participation by public health professionals in decision making. The session also will explore the need for public policy to protect the health of the environment and workers during gas extraction, and will examine potential courses of action.
Session Objectives: 1. Provide a policy overview of domestic energy sources, expectations for the near term, and tradeoffs of shale gas development activities compared to coal, oil and renewable sources. 2. Review the current state of scientific knowledge around shale gas development effects on public health. 3. Discuss the potential inclusion of health professionals in decision making and the proposed use of health as criteria within current Environmental Impact Assessment.
Barbara Glenn, MPH, PhD , Robin Taylor Wilson, MA, PhD and Walter Jones, MSc, CIH
Walter Jones, MSc, CIH

Environmental health science and policy implications of unconventional natural gas drilling
Bernard D. Goldstein, MD, Jill Kriesky, PhD and Barbara Pavliakova, MPH

See individual abstracts for presenting author's disclosure statement and author's information.

Organized by: Epidemiology
Endorsed by: Environment, Community Health Planning and Policy Development

See more of: Epidemiology