No Health Impact Assessment has yet been done. The SGEIS does not include a health rick analysis. We know that various toxic chemicals are used and radioactive radon is released. We know that these pass through fissures in rocks into ground water and into the air. There are a substantial number of reports of health problems from residents living near drilling sites. This is what health professionals say (courtesy Concerned Citizens of Town of Chenango):
- The Medical Societies of Broome County, Otsego County and Tompkins County all have written in support of moratorium on gas drilling until the EPA study on the impacts on human health and the environment is complete and shows the process can be done safely. See the Medical Societies’ letters.
- Over 100 health professionals and over 65 organizations requested Governor Cuomo require a Health Impact Assessment before allowing hydraulic fracturing to go forward. See the health professional’s letter to governor Cuomo.
- Sandra Steingraber’s letter to Governor Cuomo on behalf of sixteen cancer advocacy groups urges a Health Impact Assessment be done before high-volume hydraulic fracturing is allowed to go forward in New York. The letter points to preliminary evidence of higher cancer rates (including breast cancer) in intensive drilling areas. Also, researchers in Colorado using the EPAs risk assessment tool calculate cancer rate increases of 5-58 cases per million due to gas drilling related air pollution. See the Cancer Advocates Letter to Cuomo.
- Some chemicals currently used in the hydraulic fracturing process should not be ingested at any concentration. Some biological systems, especially the endocrine system, are extremely sensitive to very low levels of chemicals, in parts-per billion or less. The damage may not be evident at the time of exposure, but can have unpredictable delayed, life-long effects on the individual and/or their offspring, per researcher Theo Colborn and her associates at The Endocrine Disruption Exchange. See Theo Colborn’s paper, Natural Gas Operations from a Public Health Perspective.
- Air pollution related to gas drilling was measured in the recent study led by Mckenzie of the Colorado School of Public Health. Air samples were taken during the well completion phase of gas drilling in Garfield County, Colorado. Based EPA guidelines for chemical exposure the study predicts an increase in cancers are possible and further study is warranted. See McKenzie’s study, Human Health Risk Assessment of Air Emissions from Development of Unconventional Natural Gas Resources.
- Human Health Risk Assessment of Air Emissions from Development of Unconventional Natural Gas Resources. There are many anecdotal accounts of families who claim to have been harmed. The Pennsylvania Alliance for Clean Air and Water has compiled a list of over 190 families who suspect gas drilling pollution is related to family problems, illnesses, death or has been the source of pollution of their property. Reportedly this list would be even larger except some people are silenced by legal settlement non-disclosure agreements, some families are advised not to go public by their attorneys or based on where they are in the legal process and some families are not known to the compiler of the list. See the very troubling List of the Harmed, including their names, where they live, their proximity to gas drilling, what exposure is suspected and their health symptoms.
- The breast cancer rate has been increasing in the counties in Texas with the highest rates of gas drilling. Emissions of pollutants from gas drilling were measured to be highest in these counties. In other counties in Texas the rates of breast cancer rates have gone down during the same time period. While the cause of this breast cancer rate increase is not understood yet from a scientific perspective, evidence suggests additional research is definitely required. See Heinkel’s article from the Denton Chronicle-Record, Breast Cancer Rate Climbs Up.
- Health complaints and symptoms were recorded for some Dish, Texas residents who were exposed to air contaminated by high-volume hydraulic fracturing chemicals. Air samples captured the chemicals used in gas drilling. Resident’s symptoms were largely the same as those expected from exposure to those same chemicals. While this does not prove the resident’s health issues were caused by gas drilling related air pollution it raises critical concerns. See Subra’s report, Community Health Survey Results for Dish, Texas Residents, from Earthworks.
- Health complaints and symptoms were recorded for some Pavillion, Wyoming residents who were exposed to drinking water likely to have been contaminated by high-volume hydraulic fracturing chemicals. While this does not prove the resident’s health issues were caused by gas drilling related pollution it raises critical concerns. See Subra’s report, Community Health Survey Results for Pavillion, Wyoming Resident, from Earthworks.
- The New York Times published this story about two Amwell Township, Pennsylvania families with health problems. Not long after the health problems started, it came to light there were prior chemicals leaks and spills from the high-volume hydraulic fracturing site nearby, up the hill. When the children with health issues were moved away from the site, the levels of benzene and toluene measured in their blood quickly went down. There is no known safe exposure level for the known carcinogen benzene. See Griswold’s article, The Fracturing of Pennsylvania, from the New York Times.
Animal Health Risks
- One survey type study done by Cornell researchers showed significant impacts to animal health near high-volume hydraulic fracturing activities. See the study by Bamberger and Oswald, Impacts for Gas Drilling on Human and Animal Health.
- Chesapeake and Schlumberger fined for killing cattle near drill site. See the Shreveport Times article, Chesapeake and Schlumberger Fined for Cows Deaths.