MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Sara Rasmussen PhD Student
Johns Hopkins School of Public Health
Department of Environmental Health Sciences
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: Residents of communities undergoing unconventional natural gas development (the “fracking” industry) and those nearby can be exposed to noise, light, vibration, heavy truck traffic, air pollution, social disruption, and anxiety related to rapid industrial development of one’s community. In Pennsylvania, development began in the mid-2000s and by 2012, 6,253 wells were drilled.
In our study, we found increased odds of asthma hospitalizations, asthma emergency department visits, and asthma oral corticosteroid medication orders (a medication used for asthma exacerbations) among asthma patients residing near bigger or larger numbers of active unconventional natural gas wells compared to those residing farther away.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: This is the first study on unconventional natural gas development and an objective respiratory outcome. There are several studies that show a health impact of unconventional natural gas development in addition to this one, including impacts on pregnancy, birth outcomes, and health symptoms.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Response: Future studies need to evaluate how unconventional natural gas development is impacting health: is it exposure to air pollution? Is it the stress of living near industrial development?
MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Response: There are a growing number of studies that show that unconventional natural gas development has health impacts. Now, we need to know why unconventional natural gas development is causing these health impacts, because if we know why these things are happening, then we can give patients recommendations on what to do and help inform policies and industry practices.
MedicalResearch.com: Thank you for your contribution to the MedicalResearch.com community.
Rasmussen SG, Ogburn EL, McCormack M, et al. Association Between Unconventional Natural Gas Development in the Marcellus Shale and Asthma Exacerbations. JAMA Intern Med. Published online July 18, 2016. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.2436.
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