A group of doctors and scientists reviewed a number of recent studies of hydraulic fracturing against what is known about reproductive health and identified increased health risks for infants, children and adults.
The peer-reviewed literature review, “Development and reproductive effects of chemicals associated with unconventional oil and natural gas operations,” was published today in the quarterly scientific journal, Reviews of Environmental Health. The authors, Ellen Webb, Sheila Bushkin-Bedient, Amanda Cheng, Christopher D. Kassotis, Victoria Balise and Susan C. Nagel, concluded there was a compelling need to better understand the consequences of fracking “through rapid and thorough further health research.”
The group studied what was known about unconventional oil and gas development, including the facts that more than 15 million Americans live within one mile of such operations. Shale drilling and fracking involves the use of chemicals with known risks to the human reproductive system, including volatile organic compounds (namely, benzene, toluene, ethyl benzene, xylene and formaldehyde) and heavy metals.
Some of the increased risks the group identified in their review of the scientific literature including effects on the fertility of both men and women, effects on fetal development and birth defects.
In an interview, Bushkin-Bedient said the group found the work by two other researchers, veterinarian Michelle Bamberger and scientist Robert Oswald, particularly informative. Bamberger and Oswald which identified livestock near frack sites as sentinels to potential health risks and published their research in New Solutions: A Journal of Environmental and Occupational Health Policy in 2012.
Nagel said both additional laboratory experiments and large-scale epidemiological studies were needed to better understand the risks.