Asthma sufferers who live near natural gas wells operated by the fracking industry are more at risk of attacks than those who live farther away, new research reveals.
A study by the US-based Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has found people with asthma who live near bigger or larger numbers of active unconventional natural gas wells operated by the fracking industry in Pennsylvania are 1.5 to four times likelier to have asthma attacks than those who live farther away.
The new study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, can’t pinpoint why asthma attacks are more likely closer to more or larger wells, though researchers say that air pollution and increased stress levels from the noise, traffic and other community impacts associated with the industry could play a role.
‘We are concerned with the growing number of studies that have observed health effects associated with this industry,’ the study’s senior author, Brian S. Schwartz, MD, MS, a professor in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at the Bloomberg School, said.
‘We believe it is time to take a more cautious approach to well development with an eye on environmental and public health impacts.’
This study has been contested by Energy in Depth, a campaign group launched by the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA).