Via The People's Record, some important news:
Living near hydraulic fracturing — or fracking — sites may increase the risk of some birth defects by as much as 30 percent, a new study suggests. In the U.S., more than 15 million people now live within a mile of a well.
The use of fracking, a gas-extraction process through which sand, water and chemicals are pumped into the ground to release trapped fuel deposits, has increased significantly in the U.S. over the past decade.
Five years ago, the U.S. produced 5 million barrels of oil per day; today, it’s 7.4 million, thanks largely to fracking.Supporters of the industry say it creates jobs and spurs the economy, while critics say its development is largely unregulated and that too little is known about pollution and health risks.
“What we found was that the risk of congenital heart defects (CHD) increased with greater density of gas wells — with mothers living in the highest-density areas at greatest risk,” Lisa McKenzie, a research associate at the Colorado School of Public Health and the lead author of the study, told Al Jazeera.The study examined links between the mother’s residential proximity to natural gas wells and birth defects in a study of more than 124,842 births from 1996 to 2009 in rural Colorado.
The study found that “births to mothers in the most exposed (areas with over 125 wells per mile) had a 30 percent greater prevalence of CHDs than births to mothers with no wells in a 10-mile radius of their residence.”
Many pollutants that are suspected of increasing the risk of birth defects are emitted into the air during development and production of natural gas, the report said.
McKenzie added that the study is not conclusive but found an “association.” But critics of the oil and gas industry were not so cautious about drawing conclusions from the evidence.“This study suggests that if you want to have a healthy baby and you live near a fracking site, move,” Gary Wockner of Colorado’s Clean Water Action, said.