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J Environ Sci Health A Tox Hazard Subst Environ Eng. 2015;50(5):447-59. doi: 10.1080/10934529.2015.992655.

Long-term impacts of unconventional drilling operations on human and animal health.

Author information

1
a Vet Behavior Consults , Ithaca , New York , USA.

Abstract

Public health concerns related to the expansion of unconventional oil and gas drilling have sparked intense debate. In 2012, we published case reports of animals and humans affected by nearby drilling operations. Because of the potential for long-term effects of even low doses of environmental toxicants and the cumulative impact of exposures of multiple chemicals by multiple routes of exposure, a longitudinal study of these cases is necessary. Twenty-one cases from five states were followed longitudinally; the follow-up period averaged 25 months. In addition to humans, cases involved food animals, companion animals and wildlife. More than half of all exposures were related to drilling and hydraulic fracturing operations; these decreased slightly over time. More than a third of all exposures were associated with wastewater, processing and production operations; these exposures increased slightly over time. Health impacts decreased for families and animals moving from intensively drilled areas or remaining in areas where drilling activity decreased. In cases of families remaining in the same area and for which drilling activity either remained the same or increased, no change in health impacts was observed. Over the course of the study, the distribution of symptoms was unchanged for humans and companion animals, but in food animals, reproductive problems decreased and both respiratory and growth problems increased. This longitudinal case study illustrates the importance of obtaining detailed epidemiological data on the long-term health effects of multiple chemical exposures and multiple routes of exposure that are characteristic of the environmental impacts of unconventional drilling operations.

KEYWORDS:

Companion animals; epidemiology; food animals; health impacts; hydraulic fracturing

PMID:
25734821
DOI:
10.1080/10934529.2015.992655
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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