Researchers from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health have found that individuals living close to a natural gas hydraulic fracking site have a significantly higher occurrence of asthma attacks. The study examined health records from the Geisinger Health System, a healthcare provider in Pennsylvania, where the fracking industry has experienced incredible growth of more than 9,000 wells in the past decade.
The records of more than 35,000 Geisinger asthma patients between the ages of 5 and 90 were studied between 2005 and 2012. Patients that reported attacks were mapped and studied in relation to the fracking well locations, and the results compared with other patients not reporting attacks in the same year. The researchers discovered that those that lived in close proximity to multiple or larger active natural gas wells were 1.5 to four times more likely to experience asthma attacks.
Brian S. Schwartz, a medical doctor and a professor in the Department of Environmental Health Services at the Bloomberg School, was the senior author of the study. He states, “We are concerned with the growing number of studies that have observed health effects associated with this industry. We believe it’s time to take a more cautious approach to [fracking] well development with an eye on environmental and public health impacts.”