Hydraulic Fracturing and infant health: New evidence from Pennsylvania

In a peer-reviewed scientific paper, an interdisciplinary team of researchers reports on their analysis of over one million Pennsylvania births, spanning the years 2004-2013.

The authors, from Princeton University, the University of Chicago and the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), found health impacts which correlated to the proximity of fracking sites. These impacts included a greater incidence of low-birth weight babies, which, in turn, is known to be associated with other developmental problems as children grow up. The health impacts were seen at distances of up to 3km (almost 2 miles), and were especially severe within 1km (about a half mile).

The researchers also suggest that their findings are more robust than those of earlier studies, because they had access to a much larger sample size, they used multiple measures of infant health, they were able to associate the health impacts with the specific distance from fracking sites, and they measured the health impacts on newborns independently of the (pre-existing) health status of their mothers.