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Public Health. 2019 Mar;168:17-25. doi: 10.1016/j.puhe.2018.11.020. Epub 2019 Jan 21.

Unconventional natural gas development and hospitalizations: evidence from Pennsylvania, United States, 2003-2014.

Author information

1
Department of Public Health Sciences, School of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Rochester, 265 Crittenden Blvd, Rochester, NY, 14642, United States.
2
School of Biological and Population Health Sciences, College of Public Health and Human Sciences, Oregon State University, United States.
3
Department of Biostatistics and Computational Biology, School of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Rochester, United States.
4
Department of Public Health Sciences, School of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Rochester, 265 Crittenden Blvd, Rochester, NY, 14642, United States. Electronic address: elaine_hill@urmc.rochester.edu.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

To examine relationships between short-term and long-term exposures to unconventional natural gas development, commonly known as fracking, and county hospitalization rates for a variety of broad disease categories.

STUDY DESIGN:

This is an ecological study based on county-level data for Pennsylvania, United States, 2003-2014.

METHODS:

We estimated multivariate regressions with county and year fixed effects, using two 12-year panels: all 67 Pennsylvania counties and 54 counties that are not large metropolitan.

RESULTS:

After correcting for multiple comparisons, we found a positive association of cumulative well density (per km2) with genitourinary hospitalization rates. When large metropolitan counties were excluded, this relationship persisted, and positive associations of skin-related hospitalization rates with cumulative well count and well density were observed. The association with genitourinary hospitalization rates is driven by females in 20-64 years group, particularly for kidney infections, calculus of ureter, and urinary tract infection. Contemporaneous wells drilled were not significantly associated with hospitalizations after adjustment for multiple comparisons.

CONCLUSIONS:

Our study shows that long-term exposure to unconventional gas development may have an impact on prevalence of hospitalizations for certain diseases in the affected populations and identifies areas of future research on unconventional gas development and health.

KEYWORDS:

Environmental health; Fracking; Hospitalization; Unconventional gas development

PMID:
30677623
PMCID:
PMC6408296
[Available on 2020-03-01]
DOI:
10.1016/j.puhe.2018.11.020

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