Fracking has certainly been a boon to domestic energy production in the U.S. but with the benefits also comes serious downsides. In addition to the environmental and climate negatives fracking also has serious health consequences. Its long been suspected that the groundwater around fracking sites can become contaminated with hazardous chemicals from the fracking process leading to serious health consequences. Just recently, a new study suggests that fracking can also negatively impact infant health. From the abstract:
“To evaluate the potential health impacts of fracking, we analyzed records of more than 1.1 million births in Pennsylvania from 2004 to 2013, comparing infants born to mothers living at different distances from active fracking sites and those born both before and after fracking was initiated at each site. We adjusted for fixed maternal determinants of infant health by comparing siblings who were and were not exposed to fracking sites in utero. We found evidence for negative health effects of in utero exposure to fracking sites within 3 km of a mother’s residence, with the largest health impacts seen for in utero exposure within 1 km of fracking sites. Negative health impacts include a greater incidence of low–birth weight babies as well as significant declines in average birth weight and in several other measures of infant health.”
The following two graphs pretty clearly tell the story:
Pretty dramatic differences in infant birth weight and infant health index for babies born to mothers who live within a few kilometers from a fracking site.