17 Jul Study Finds Increased Hospitalizations Near Marcellus Shale Fracking Wells
MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Reynold A. Panettieri, Jr., M.D.
Robert L. Mayock and David A. Cooper Professor of Medicine
Pulmonary, Allergy & Critical Care Division
Director, Airways Biology Initiative
Deputy Director, Center of Excellence in Environmental Toxicology
Adjunct Professor, Wistar Institute
Philadelphia, PA 19104-3413
Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Dr. Panettieri: Over the past ten years in the US, unconventional gas and oil drilling (hydraulic fracturing) to generate natural gas has markedly increased. In areas with hydraulic fracturing, there is a large increase in truck traffic, noise and potential air and water pollution. Accordingly, residents may experience health consequences from such exposures. We questioned whether proximity to active wells increases hospitalization rates in residents. To address this question, we reviewed all hospitalizations in two counties in Pennsylvania, namely, Bradford and Susquehanna Counties, that experienced a meteoric increase in active wells. In comparison, Wayne County, where there is a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, is demographically identical to Bradford and Susquehanna Counties and served as a control population. Having examined the 25 most common reasons for admission to the hospital, we determined that cardiovascular hospitalizations as well as neurologic, dermatologic and cancer hospitalizations were associated with living closer to active wells. These data represent some of the first studies to associate active well drilling with hospitalizations in the United States.
Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?
Dr. Panettieri: Our data supports the concept that hydraulic fracturing and proximity to active wells may increase the risk for hospitalization for cardiovascular and other diseases. Although our study can only associate active well density with hospitalizations, we posit that air, water and noise pollution as well as aberrant stress responses may contribute to the health consequences. Further, the economic value of hydraulic fracturing should account for the potential of increased hospitalizations and health care associated with this activity.
Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Dr. Panettieri: Since this study can only associate active well drilling with hospitalizations, further studies are necessary to identify the specific diseases that are manifested with proximity to active well drilling. Other studies should examine whether emergency department and outpatient visits also correlate with proximity to active wells to understand the comprehensive consequences of hydraulic fracturing on health care utilization.
Thomas Jemielita, George L. Gerton, Matthew Neidell, Steven Chillrud, Beizhan Yan, Martin Stute, Marilyn Howarth, Pouné Saberi, Nicholas Fausti, Trevor M. Penning, Jason Roy, Kathleen J. Propert, Reynold A. Panettieri Jr. Unconventional Gas and Oil Drilling Is Associated with Increased Hospital Utilization Rates. PLoS One, 2015 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0131093
Reynold A. Panettieri, Jr., M.D (2015). Study Finds Increased Hospitalizations Near Marcellus Shale Fracking Wells