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J Environ Sci Health A Tox Hazard Subst Environ Eng. 2015;50(5):473-81. doi: 10.1080/10934529.2015.992666.

Reported health conditions in animals residing near natural gas wells in southwestern Pennsylvania.

Author information

1
a Section of Comparative Medicine , Yale University School of Medicine , New Haven , Connecticut , USA.

Abstract

Natural gas extraction activities, including the use of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, may pose potential health risks to both human and animal populations in close proximity to sites of extraction activity. Because animals may have increased exposure to contaminated water and air as well as increased susceptibility to contaminant exposures compared to nearby humans, animal disease events in communities living near natural gas extraction may provide "sentinel" information useful for human health risk assessment. Community health evaluations as well as health impact assessments (HIAs) of natural gas exploration should therefore consider the inclusion of animal health metrics in their assessment process. We report on a community environmental health survey conducted in an area of active natural gas drilling, which included the collection of health data on 2452 companion and backyard animals residing in 157 randomly-selected households of Washington County, Pennsylvania (USA). There were a total of 127 reported health conditions, most commonly among dogs. When reports from all animals were considered, there were no significant associations between reported health condition and household proximity to natural gas wells. When dogs were analyzed separately, we found an elevated risk of 'any' reported health condition in households less than 1km from the nearest gas well (OR = 3.2, 95% CI 1.07-9.7), with dermal conditions being the most common of canine disorders. While these results should be considered hypothesis generating and preliminary, they suggest value in ongoing assessments of pet dogs as well as other animals to better elucidate the health impacts of natural gas extraction on nearby communities.

KEYWORDS:

Animal sentinels; environmental health; hydraulic fracturing; natural gas

PMID:
25734823
DOI:
10.1080/10934529.2015.992666
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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