In a new study published last month by the journal Epidemiology, researchers from the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health evaluated the effects of unconventional natural gas development on birth outcomes. The study revealed that mothers in areas where concentrated natural gas fracking occurred were more likely to experience a premature birth, and also had a higher chance of having what physicians call a “high-risk” pregnancy.
Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” is a process used to extract natural gas from the earth. A mixture of sand, water, and chemicals is pumped into the ground through a high-powered drill, breaking through up to two miles of earth in an attempt to free natural gas deposits. Fracking has come under attack for several health hazards it presents. In 2013, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health released a report showing that fracking exposes workers to silica dust, which can lead to life-threatening lung complications.
Now researchers have sought to evaluate what effects fracking may have on the birth outcomes of women living near wells. The study used health data on
9,384 mothers connected to 10,964 newborns from January 2009 to January 2013. Researchers analyzed data to examine the relationship between mothers’ proximity to active fracking sites and “term birth weight, preterm birth, low 5-minute Apgar score and small size for gestational age birth.” The results showed a 40 percent increased risk of premature birth and a 30 percent increased chance of high-risk pregnancy in mothers who lived closest to fracking wells.
Concerns have also arisen over the effects fracking has on the health of local residents and ecosystems. Multiple studies have found increased levels of arsenic and other toxic metals in groundwater near fracking sites.
Fracking continues to come under fire for the health and environmental damages it is alleged to cause. If you or someone close to you was injured from exposure to fracking chemicals or contaminated groundwater, contact the attorneys at Lopez McHugh today. Through a free consultation, we can help determine whether a lawsuit is right for you.