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The American Medical Association’s Journal of Internal Medicine released the results of a study this week that documented a correlation between fracking activities and an increased risk of asthma exacerbations for nearby residents.
Unconventional natural gas development (UNGD) has previously been associated with air quality disturbances, which can lead to the exacerbation of asthma symptoms.
The pollution has been known to stem from truck traffic and sleep disruption, the article said.
"Asthma is a common disease with large individual and societal burdens, so the possibility that UNGD may increase risk for asthma exacerbations requires public health attention,” the report’s authors noted. “As ours is the first study to our knowledge of UNGD and objective respiratory outcomes, and several other health outcomes have not been investigated to date, there is an urgent need for more health studies.”
“These should include more detailed exposure assessment to better characterize pathways and to identify the phases of development that present the most risk," the study concludes.”
Brian Schwartz, from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, led the research team, which included 35,508 asthma patients who visited the Geisinger Clinic in Pennsylvania from 2005 to 2012.
Pennsylvania’s rise as a major user of UNGD techniques between the years 2005 to 2013 caught the researchers’ interest. A total of 6,253 wells of the kind began drilling in the state during the time period studied, while 4,728 were stimulated and 3,706 were in production.
Asthma patients who lived in areas with the highest frequency of residential UNGD activity had a higher risk of contracting one of the three types of exacerbations compared with those patients in the lowest group of residential activity, the study’s results showed.
Nearly 26 million people in the United States currently suffer from asthma symptoms.
By Zainab Calcuttawala for Oilprice.com
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Zainab Calcuttawala is an American journalist based in Morocco. She completed her undergraduate coursework at the University of Texas at Austin (Hook’em) and reports on…