Environmental public health dimensions of shale and tight gas development.

TitleEnvironmental public health dimensions of shale and tight gas development.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsShonkoff SBC, Hays J, Finkel ML
JournalEnviron Health Perspect
Date Published2014 Aug
KeywordsAir Pollution, Environmental Monitoring, Humans, Natural Gas, Public Health, United States, Water Pollution, Water Quality

BACKGROUND: The United States has experienced a boom in natural gas production due to recent technological innovations that have enabled this resource to be produced from shale formations.

OBJECTIVES: We reviewed the body of evidence related to exposure pathways in order to evaluate the potential environmental public health impacts of shale gas development. We highlight what is currently known and identify data gaps and research limitations by addressing matters of toxicity, exposure pathways, air quality, and water quality.

DISCUSSION: There is evidence of potential environmental public health risks associated with shale gas development. Several studies suggest that shale gas development contributes to ambient air concentrations of pollutants known to be associated with increased risk of morbidity and mortality. Similarly, an increasing body of studies suggest that water contamination risks exist through a variety of environmental pathways, most notably during wastewater transport and disposal, and via poor zonal isolation of gases and fluids due to structural integrity impairment of cement in gas wells.

CONCLUSION: Despite a growing body of evidence, data gaps persist. Most important, there is a need for more epidemiological studies to assess associations between risk factors, such as air and water pollution, and health outcomes among populations living in close proximity to shale gas operations.

Alternate JournalEnviron. Health Perspect.
PubMed ID24736097
PubMed Central IDPMC4123033
Faculty Publication