A Yale University study published in August 2022 on DeSmog indicates that there is a two to three times increased likelihood for children ages 2-7 to develop acute lymphoblastic leukemia when residing in areas bordering fracking sites in Pennsylvania. The research discovered that those children who lived near fracking locations from the time that they were in the womb were more likely to fall victim to cancer. From isolating other aspects that could potentially play a role in this disease development, scientists believe that a leukemia diagnosis may be attributable to contact with tainted water from these fracking areas.
This extensive study, originating from Environmental Health Perspectives, involved approximately 2,500 children, with 405 being leukemia patients. As one of only two youth-driven studies of potential cancer risk with the most expansive number of participants, researchers revealed that those residing less than two kilometers (approximately 1.2 miles) from a fracking site were much more likely to develop leukemia, having been exposed to toxins such as radioactive debris, particle pollution, and volatile organic compounds. Although this study employed an “exposure metric that takes into account topography, hydrology, and proximity to gas wells,” the state of Pennsylvania currently has a vicinity sanction of only 500 feet with other states possessing even shorter measurement restrictions for fracking locations. This inadequate closeness to fracking facilities recklessly subjects children to the risk of cancer. When considered alongside other research about fracking’s complications to health, such as a heightened possibility of heart attacks and expectant mothers acquiring high blood pressure or having seizures following exposure, it is apparent that this form of energy acquisition, which became prominent in 2010, has transformed into a “public health crisis.”
The minimal corporate coverage of this shocking study potentially suggests the magnitude of influence that the energy lobby has over the policies of corporate America. In contrast, there was some acknowledgment of fracking health implications in regional and independent sources, such as the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Independent news source the Guardian also makes reference to this public health issue through the Yale University study described in DeSmog. In August 2022, this story was also covered by Smithsonian Magazine and The Hill.
Nick Cunningham, “Children Living Close to Fracking Sites Have Two to Three Times Higher Risk of Leukemia,” DeSmog, August 17, 2022.
Nick Cunningham, “Living Closer to Oil and Gas Drilling Linked to Higher Risk of Pregnancy Complications, New Study Finds,” DeSmog, January 11, 2022.
Student Researcher: Ashley Rogers (Drew University)
Faculty Evaluator: Lisa Lynch (Drew University)