Latest study has concluded that people who live near fracking sites are more likely to get sick than those who do not.
Also known as hydraulic drilling, fracking has greatly increased in the US since the past decade. It is a form of oil and gas drilling and has had its effects on air and water pollution. A lot of fracked wells can be found in Pennsylvania.
Hospitalization due to conditions like heart problems and neurological disorders may be a caused by fracking, especially among those living near these hotspots.
Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania analyzed data showing rates of hospitalization in the northeastern counties in the state. Findings of the study were published July 15 in the online journal PLOS ONE.
For the study, the team of researchers took a look at the top 25 specific medical categories for 18,000 hospitalizations in the Bradford, Susquehanna and Wayne Counties. Records revealed data from 2007 to 2011.
The team noticed that people living in the Bradford and Susquehanna areas we more likely to be hospitalized for heart problems by about 27 percent, compared to people living in Wayne County.
From 2007 to 2011, fracking increased significantly in Bradford and Susquehanna. These areas have a fracked well density of over 0.79 wells per square kilometer. In Wayne, however, fracking is not allowed because the county is located near the Delaware River watershed.
"At this point, we suspect that residents are exposed to many toxicants, noise and social stressors due to hydraulic fracturing near their homes, and this may add to the increased number of hospitalizations," said Dr. Reynold Panettieri, Jr., deputy director of the Center of Excellence in Environmental Toxicology at the University of Pennsylvania, and senior author of the study.
According to the researchers, this study should result in further research to find out exactly what pollutants are brought about by fracking, and see how these pollutants or combinations of them may contribute to the increased rates of hospitalization in the hotspot areas.
Also, further studies must be done because the findings do not prove the actual cause fracking may contribute to heart and neurological problems. It suggests considering health care costs to estimate the economic impacts of fracking.