While many have been touting the effect that domestic hydraulic fracturing drilling companies have had on the economy, others have been roundly skeptical about the long term effects that fracking has on the environment and also on humans. Now a new study has shown a correlation between the occurrence of asthma symptoms and fracking. According to a new study by Johns Hopkins University, people that are in close proximity to fracking drilling companies increase their likelihood of suffering an asthma attack by about four-fold.
This new research data comes from a line of studies that are focused on examining the health implications that are associated with being in close range to fracking well drilling companies. Researchers have noted that the focus on asthma is only part of a larger comprehensive public health study that will test a bevy of health complications from fracking well drilling. Will there is data to suggest a relation, the exact causes of why these health issues are being reported is a major focus of the studies.
The study had a sample size of 35,000 asthma sufferers and discovered that there were more asthma attacks, some that required hospital visits. The asthma symptoms happened during different phases of the fracking well?s construction, in fact researchers found that the construction phase was when the well caused the most health issues.
While many may have a dismissive view of asthma it is actually quite a serious lung illness that affects more than 25 million Americans each year. The symptoms can vary in severity from wheezing, inability to catch one?s breath. In serious cases it can be deadly if not treated in a prompt manner. Asthma sufferers are more susceptible to respiratory failure, most notably children and the elderly.
For many asthma sufferers, their symptoms are triggered by roadways, air, pollution and stress. The building of a major fracking well could coincide with these factors. As of now there have been almost 700 studies on the health risks associated to fracking which have included asthma problems.
During the fracking process deep wells are drilled, then water, chemical compounds and sand is forced into the opening in an effort to fracture rocks and release natural gas that can subsequently be harvested for energy purposes.
Opponents of this process have cited that the process can affect the quality of water and air as well as create instability.
While researchers do assert that there has to be more evidence to claim a definitive causation of the health issues that are purported the current data is enough to warrant concern. Another aspect of the research has to do with neo-natal health. Some studies have shown that close proximity to hydraulic fracturing operations can lead to early births as well as low birth weights, respiratory and circulatory issues in infants.
Fracking drilling companies and supporters claim that alleged health issues related with drilling are unproven and tenuous claims. Several fracking proponents state that there is has been adequate data to come to the assumption that fracking is considered to be generally safe.
Opponents counter however that fracking is still in its early phases and there should be more of an emphasis on adequate measures to ensure that the public health of areas that are exposed to fracking operations is secure. These series of studies are progressing the link between health issues and fracking. Many are also lobbying for drilling companies to disclose which chemicals they are using during the hydraulic fracturing process, in order to make a determination that these chemicals will not mistakenly seep into ground water wells.
While hydraulic fracturing has been reducing American dependence on foreign energy and the economic benefits are starting to show up in our everyday lives, there are still many questions that have not quite been answered. What will be the long term health ramifications for those that live near fracking operations? What will be the long term effects on the environment? If we look back into history, the ravaging effects of the Midwest Dustbowl, defined an entire generation. Will fracking lead to another environmental catastrophe that could have been easily avoided if more research was devoted to it. As with most things in this life only time will tell.