Fracking's Wide Health Impact: From the Ozone to Ground Water and All Those Living in Between, a Science Update

November 4, 2014
09:00 am US Eastern Time

Slides & Resources

Speaker presentation slides:

Dr. Helmig: Air Quality Impacts of Oil and Gas Development - Download the PDF

Dr. Bamberger: Health Impacts of Unconventional Fossil Fuel Extraction - Download the PDF

Dr. Brown: UNGD and Health: What Needs to be Looked at Next? - Download the PDF


Additional resources of interest:

Environmental Health Journal: Air concentrations of volatile compounds near oil and gas production: a community-based exploratory study

Center for Environmental Health: Warning Signs: Toxic Air Pollution Identified at Oil and Gas Development Sites

Bamberger, M. and Oswald, R.E. (2012) Impacts of gas drilling on human and animal health. New Solutions, A Journal of Environmental and Occupational Health Policy 22 (1), 51-77, http://baywood.metapress.com/link.asp?id=661442p346j5387t

Bamberger, M. and Oswald, R.E. (2012) Risk and responsibility: Farming, food, and unconventional gas drilling. Independent Science News, http://www.independentsciencenews.org/health/risk-and-responsibility-farming-food-and-unconventional-gas-drilling/

Bamberger, M. and Oswald, R.E. (editors) (2013) Special Issue: Economic, Sociological, and Health Impacts of Shale Gas Extraction. New Solutions, A Journal of Environmental and Occupational Health Policy 23, 1-221, http://baywood.metapress.com/link.asp?id=tn6551r70125

Bamberger, M. and Oswald, R.E. (2014) Unconventional oil and gas extraction and animal health. Environmental Science Processes and Impacts, 16, 1860-1865, http://pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlelanding/2014/em/c4em00150h#!divAbstract

Bamberger, M. and Oswald, R.E. (2014) The Shale Gas Revolution From a Former Industry Insider. New Solutions, A Journal of Environmental and Occupational Health Policy July 29, 1- 16, DOI: 10.2190/NS.EOV.1, http://baywood.metapress.com/openurl.asp?genre=article&id=doi:10.2190/NS.EOV.1

Bamberger, M. and Oswald, R.E. 2014. The Real Cost of Fracking: How America’s Shale Gas Boom is Threatening our Families, Pets, and Food. Beacon Press, Boston., https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/michelle-bamberger/the-real-cost-of-fracking/

Bamberger, M. and Oswald, R.E. (2014) Long-term impacts of unconventional drilling operations on human and animal health. Journal of Environmental Science and Health Part A, in press.

Bamberger, M. and Oswald, R.E. (2014) Impacts of shale gas extraction on animal health and implications for food safety. Madelon Finkel (editor) The rush to drill: The human and environmental costs of shale gas extraction. Praeger Press, in press. 

Brown, D., Weinberger, B., Lewis, C., Bonaparte, H. Understanding exposure from natural gas drilling puts current air standards to the test. Reviews on Environmental Health. Volume 0, Issue 0, ISSN (Online) 2191-0308, ISSN (Print) 0048-7554, DOI: 10.1515/reveh-2014-0002, March 2014.


Listen to Recording

Research on the health impacts on those living around fracking sites, where shale is hydraulically shattered to extract trapped energy through the administration of a number of known toxicants, only continues to grow more concerning. For example, Utah’s Uintah Basin, home to a combined 11,200 oil- and gas-producing wells, exceeded the level of the EPA’s National Ambient Air Quality Standards for ozone pollutants for 39 days in the winter 2013, placing it above the Los Angeles Basin’s typical summertime levels. Studies have shown that some chemicals used in fracking are carcinogenic and others are associated with respiratory, neurological, and reproductive health problems. Despite these findings, not only in Utah, but in other places in the US and the world, tens of thousands of new wells are being proposed with little or no regulation and oversight from the gas companies nor the government.

On this call three experts, who look at these issues from different angles, described the state of the science on the health implications of fracking. Detlev Helmig, PhD, Fellow and Associate Research Professor at Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR) at the University of Colorado, Boulder, spoke to oil and gas emissions and the accumulation of air toxins that can harm human health. Michelle Bamberger, MS, DVM, veterinarian and co-author of The Real Cost of Fracking, described her field research on air, water and soil pollution from fracking and their impact on both animals and humans. David Brown, ScD, Public Health Toxicologist and Director of Public Health Toxicology for Environment and Human Health, Inc. highlighted his work with the Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project, which is concerned with health impacts of fracking for residents in Washington County, PA.

Featured Speakers

Detlev Helmig, PhD, is a Fellow and Associate Research Professor at Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR) at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Dr. Helmig, after receiving a Diploma degree in Analytical Chemistry from the Ruhr-University in Bochum, Germany, conducted his PhD research at the Fraunhofer Institute for Environmental Chemistry and Ecotoxicology in Schallenberg, and at the University of Duisburg, studying the causes of forest decline in Germany in the 1980s. After a postdoctoral studies at the Statewide Air Pollution Research Center at the University of California, Riverside, he moved to Colorado as a visiting scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). With the support from an EPA Young Investigator Award, he developed his research program at the University of Colorado. Since 2001 he has been with the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR) where he leads the Atmospheric Research Laboratory. His research interests cover surface and biosphere-atmosphere gas exchanges, atmospheric chemistry and transport. Particular current foci include ocean-atmosphere gas fluxes and their controls, trace gas chemistry in snow, volatile organic compound emissions from vegetation, and impacts of oil and gas development on the atmosphere. Dr. Helmig is a steering member of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Global Atmospheric Watch (GAW) scientific advisory group for reactive gases, and his laboratory houses the global monitoring program for atmospheric volatile organic compounds (VOC). Besides his atmospheric research Dr. Helmig has developed an interest in sustainable energy and lifestyle. He recently designed and constructed the fully solar-powered home that he and his family reside in within the City of Boulder, Colorado.

Michelle Bamberger, MS, DVM is a researcher, author and veterinarian in private practice in Ithaca, NY and serves on the advisory board of Physicians, Scientists, and Engineers for Healthy Energy. Dr. Bamberger received her DVM from Cornell University in 1985. Before attending Cornell, she earned her masters degree in pharmacology from Hahnemann University Medical College and then worked in equine research for two years at New Bolton Center, University of Pennsylvania Veterinary School. After graduating from Cornell, Dr. Bamberger studied at Oxford University and practiced small animal and exotic medicine and surgery in both Massachusetts and New York. Before opening Vet Behavior Consults in 2002, Dr. Bamberger returned to Cornell for training in the field of behavior medicine as a Visiting Fellow. She has a special interest in educating the public on veterinary topics and has taught adult education courses and written two books on the topic of first aid. Since 2009, Dr. Bamberger has been investigating the links between human and animal health and unconventional fossil fuel extraction. She is the coauthor of The Real Cost of Fracking: How America’s Shale Gas Boom Is Threatening Our Families, Pets, and Food.

David Brown, ScD, is the Public Health Toxicologist and Director of Public Health Toxicology for Environment and Human Health, Inc. He is the past Chief of Environmental Epidemiology and Occupational Health in Connecticut and was previously Associate Professor of Toxicology at Northeastern College of Pharmacy and Allied Health. He also served as Deputy Director of the Public Health Practice Group of Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) at the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. Brown graduated from Cornell University in Biochemistry, received his MS from the University of California In Environmental Health, and his ScD from Harvard School of Public Health in Toxicology.

The call was moderated by Elise Miller, MEd, CHE Director. The call lasted for one hour and was recorded for archival purposes.