Giving Compass' Take:
- According to a recent study, there is an increased risk for children to develop leukemia when being born and growing up near fracking sites.
- How can this information help strengthen public health messaging?
- Read about the health impacts of living near hydraulic fracking.
What is Giving Compass?
We connect donors to learning resources and ways to support community-led solutions. Learn more about us.
Children who live fracking sites at birth were two to three times more likely to be diagnosed with leukemia between the ages of 2 and 7 than those who did not, according to a new study.
The study, which appears in Environmental Health Perspectives, took into account other factors that could influence cancer risk.
The registry-based study included nearly 2,500 Pennsylvania children, 405 of whom were diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, the most common type of cancer in children.
Acute lymphoblastic leukemia, also referred to as ALL, is a type of leukemia that arises from mutations to lymphoid immune cells. Although long-term survival rates are high, children who survive this disease may be at higher risk of other health problems, developmental challenges, and psychological issues.
Unconventional oil and gas (UOG) development, more commonly referred to as fracking (short for hydraulic fracturing), is a method for extracting gas and oil from shale rock. The process involves injecting water, sand, and chemicals into bedrock at high pressure, which allows gas and oil to flow into a well and then be collected for market.
For communities living nearby, UOG development can pose a number of potential threats. Chemical threats include, for example, air pollution from vehicle emissions and well and road construction, and water pollution from hydraulic fracturing or spills of wastewater.
Hundreds of chemicals have been reportedly used in UOG injection water or detected in wastewater, some of which are known or suspected to be cancer causing. The paucity of data on the association between UOG and childhood cancer outcomes has fueled public concerns about possible cancer clusters in heavily drilled regions and calls for more research and government action.
“Unconventional oil and gas development can both use and release chemicals that have been linked to cancer, so the potential for children living near UOG to be exposed to these chemical carcinogens is a major public health concern,” says senior author Nicole Deziel, associate professor of epidemiology at the Yale School of Public Health.
“Studies of UOG exposure and cancer are extremely few in number. We set out to conduct a high-quality study to further investigate this potential relationship,” says first author Cassandra Clark, a postdoctoral associate at the Yale Cancer Center. “Our results indicate that exposure to UOG may be an important risk factor for ALL, particularly for children exposed in utero.”
The study also found that drinking water could be an important pathway of exposure to oil and gas-related chemicals. The authors applied a new exposure metric in this study that they call “IDups” (which stands for “inverse distance to the nearest upgradient unconventional oil and gas well”).
Read the full article about risks of living near fracking sites by Fred Mamoun at Futurity.