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Well Placement and Health

Scientific studies have shown that the risk of dangerous exposure to pollution and hazards associated with hydraulic fracturing is directly related to an individual’s proximity to a well site. Individuals who live, work, or play near hydraulic fracturing operations are more likely to be exposed to air and water pollutants and experience negative health effects, including: [1], [2]

Accidental or intentional releases of natural gas, such as flaring and venting, at hydraulic fracturing sites can emit air pollutants. Fluids injected into wells and the naturally occurring brine present in oil or gas-bearing rocks have been known to contaminate drinking water. The large volumes of wastewater generated by hydraulic fracturing also pose a risk of pollution if not managed properly.

There is no expert consensus on the minimum safe distance between hydraulically fractured wells and dwellings, schools, or other inhabited buildings, water resources, or critical infrastructure. States with active hydraulic fracturing operations have established minimum setback distance requirements ranging from less than 100 feet to 1,000 feet. Some states are considering increasing their minimum setback distance requirements between wells and homes, schools, hospitals, and other occupied buildings, as well as water resources, to better protect human health from the hazardous conditions and exposures at a hydraulic fracturing well site.

References

1.Aldgate J. L. et al, “Potential Public Health Hazards, Exposures and Health Effects from Unconventional Natural Gas Development,” Environmental Science & Technology, vol. 48, no. 15, pp. 8307-8320, 2014.

2. Haley M. et al, “Adequacy of Current State Setbacks for Directional High-Volume Hydraulic Fracturing in the Marcellus, Barnett, and Niobrara Shale Plays,” Environmental Health Perspectives, vol. 124, no. 9, pp. 1323-1333, 2016.

3. Tasker T. L. et al, “Environmental and Human Health Impacts of Spreading Oil and Gad Wastewater on Roads,” Environmental Science & Technology, vol. 52, no. 12, pp. 7081-7091, 2018.

4. Whitworth K. W. et al, “Maternal residential proximity to unconventional gas development and perinatal outcomes among a diverse urban population in Texas,” PLoS One, vol. 12, no. 7, 2017.

5. Currie J. et al, “Hydraulic fracturing and infant health: New evidence from Pennsylvania,” Science Advances, vol. 3, no. 12, 2017.

6. McKenzie L. M. et al, “Birth Outcomes and Maternal Residential Proximity to Natural Gas Development in Rural Colorado,” Environmental Health Perspectives, vol. 122, no. 4, pp. 412-417, 2014.

7. Kassotis C. D. et al, “Estrogen and androgen receptor activities of hydraulic fracturing chemicals and surface and ground water in a drilling-dense region,” Endocrinology, vol. 155, no. 3, pp. 897-907, 2014.

8. Bunch A. G. et al, “Evaluation of impact of shale gas operations in the Barnett Shale region on volatile organic compounds in air and potential human health risks,” Science of The Total Environment, vol. 468-469, pp. 832-842, 2014.

9. “Volatile Organic Compounds,” American Lung Association, 2020. [Online]. Available: https://www.lung.org/clean-air/at-home/indoor-air-pollutants/volatile-organic-compounds

10. “What are Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)?”, U.S. National Library of Medicine. [Online]. Available: https://toxtown.nlm.nih.gov/chemicals-and-contaminants/volatile-organic-compounds-vocs

11. Rabinowitz P. M. et al, “Proximity to natural gas wells and reported health status: results of a household survey in Washington County, Pennsylvania,” Environmental Health Perspective, vol. 123, no.1, pp. 21-26, 2015.

12. Macey G. P. et al, “Air concentrations of volatile compounds near oil and gas production: a community-based exploratory study,” Environmental Health, vol. 13, no. 82, 2014.

13. Aldgate J. L. et al, “Potential Public Health Hazards, Exposures and Health Effects from Unconventional Natural Gas Development,” Environmental Science & Technology, vol. 48, no. 15, pp. 8307-8320, 2014.

14. Steinzor N. et al, “Investigating links between shale gas development and health impacts through a community survey project in Pennsylvania,” New Solutions, vol. 23, no. 1, pp. 55-83, 2013.

15. Gorski I. et al, “Environmental Health Concerns from Unconventional Natural Gas Development,” Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Global Public Health, 2019.

16. Hays J. et al, “Toward an Understanding of the Environmental and Public Health Impacts of Unconventional Natural Gas Development: A Categorical Assessment of Peer-Reviewed Scientific Literature, 2009-2015,” PLoS One, vol. 11, no. 4, 2016.

17. Rabinowitz P. M. et al, “Proximity to natural gas wells and reported health status: results of a household survey in Washington County, Pennsylvania,” Environmental Health Perspective, vol. 123, no.1, pp. 21-26, 2015.

18. Tasker T. L. et al, “Environmental and Human Health Impacts of Spreading Oil and Gad Wastewater on Roads,” Environmental Science & Technology, vol. 52, no. 12, pp. 7081-7091, 2018.

19. Elliott E. G. et al, “Unconventional oil and gas development and risk of childhood leukemia: Assessing the evidence,” Science of The Total Environment, vol. 576, pp. 138-147, 2017.

20. McKenzie L. M. et al, “Human health risk assessment of air emissions from development of unconventional natural gas resources,” Science of The Total Environment, vol. 424, pp. 79-87, 2012.

21. McKenzie L. M. et al, “Childhood hematologic cancer and residential proximity to oil and gas development,” PLoS One, vol. 12, no. 2, 2017.

22. Steinzor N. et al, “Investigating links between shale gas development and health impacts through a community survey project in Pennsylvania,” New Solutions, vol. 23, no. 1, pp. 55-83, 2013.

23. Hays J. et al, “Toward an Understanding of the Environmental and Public Health Impacts of Unconventional Natural Gas Development: A Categorical Assessment of Peer-Reviewed Scientific Literature, 2009-2015,” PLoS One, vol. 11, no. 4, 2016.

24. Rabinowitz P. M. et al, “Proximity to natural gas wells and reported health status: results of a household survey in Washington County, Pennsylvania,” Environmental Health Perspective, vol. 123, no.1, pp. 21-26, 2015.

25. McKenzie L. M. et al, “Human health risk assessment of air emissions from development of unconventional natural gas resources,” Science of The Total Environment, vol. 424, pp. 79-87, 2012.

26. Helmig D. et al, “Highly elevated atmospheric levels of volatile organic compounds in the Uintah Basin, Utah,” Environmental Science & Technology, vol. 48, no. 9, pp. 4707-4715, 2014.

27. “Assessing Environmental Impacts of Horizontal Gas Well Drilling Operations (ETD-10 Project),” West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, 2013. [Online]. Available: https://dep.wv.gov/oil-and-gas/Horizontal-Permits/legislativestudies/Documents/WVU%20Final%20Air%20Noise%20Light%20Report.pdf

28. “Substance Index for ToxFAQ,” Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, 2014. [Online]. Available: https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxfaqs/Index.asp

29. Ferrar K. J. et al, “Assessment and longitudinal analysis of health impacts and stressors perceived to result from unconventional shale gas development in the Marcellus Shale region,” International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health, vol. 19, no. 2, pp. 104-122, 2013.

30. Hays J. et al, “Public health implications of environmental noise associated with unconventional oil and gas development,” Science of The Total Environment, vol. 580, pp. 448-456, 2017.

31. Richburg C. M. et al, “Noise concerns of residents living in close proximity to hydraulic fracturing sites in Southwest Pennsylvania,” Public Health Nursing, vol. 36, no. 1, 2018.

32. Goodman P. S. et al, “Investigating the traffic-related environmental impacts of hydraulic-fracturing (fracking) operations,” Environment International, vol. 89-90, pp. 248-260, 2016.

33. “What environmental issues are associated with hydraulic fracturing?” U.S. Geological Survey. [Online]. Available: https://www.usgs.gov/faqs/what-environmental-issues-are-associated-hydraulic-fracturing?qt-news_science_products=0#qt-news_science_products

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