Fracking and Health

I keep hearing that people who live within 5 miles of a fracking site get ill, and that there are more premature babies with birth defects - are my family and I going to get sick?

A:

Yes, you are going to get sick. We all do, from time-to-time. But will fracking cause that? Based on the available evidence, it seems not. 

There hasn't been a single study anywhere that we've found which conclusively and definitively links fracking with unwanted health impacts. Not a single one. There have been lots that imply that people living near shale gas development in the US are made sick by fracking though, and unfortunately these get into the news because bad news sells. 

When these sorts of studies are published, it's always worth getting a copy and reading the conclusions of yourself - you'll often find that the results are much more mundane and inconclusive than the news headlines would have you believe. Look at who is behind them too - many are undertaken by pseudo-scientific establishments that are funded by anti-fossil fuel groups like the Park Foundation, and so there's an obvious risk of bias creeping in.

We are not epidemiologists, but we've used online research tools in the UK to examine whether health outcomes in communities around the 2,000 or more existing onshore oil and gas wells are any worse than everywhere else and they're not, by any measure. And we've been unable to find any evidence that oil and gas workers (the people most likely to be exposed to potentially harmful substances) suffer with chronic or acute health problems any more than the rest of the working population.

There's more about fracking and health here.