ProPublica consistently digs into issues to a greater extent than most of the corporate media tends to do. This article, “Drilling for Certainty: The Latest in Fracking Health Studies”, is a perfect example. As ProPublica notes, “[t]he studies included [in its review] are by no means a comprehensive review of the scientific literature,” but it’s at least “a survey of some of that work.” Here are a few highlights:
- An Exploratory Study of Air Quality near Natural Gas Operations. Human and Ecological Risk Assessment, 2012: “produced evidence of 57 different chemicals, 45 of which they believe have some potential for affecting human health,” including “methylene chloride, a toxic solvent that the industry had not previously disclosed as present in drilling operations,” in “almost 75 percent of all samples collected.”
- Birth Outcomes and Natural Gas Development. Environmental Health Perspectives, 2014: Found that “women who lived close to gas wells were more likely to have children born with a variety of defects, from oral clefts to heart issues,” with “babies born to mothers who lived in areas dense with gas wells were 30 percent more likely to have congenital heart defects.”
- Health Risks and Unconventional Natural Gas Resources. Science of the Total Environment, 2012: Found “the presence of a number of hydrocarbons including benzene, trimethylbenzene and xylene, all of which have been shown to pose health dangers at certain levels.”
Keep in mind that ProPublica’s review is just a small sample of the studies out there, and that there is a “scarcity of funding available for large-scale studies as a major obstacle in tackling the issue.” One can only imagine what those studies would find, if there were funding to conduct them.