Living anywhere near a fracking site could be really 'fracking' bad for your health, according to a new study.
The debate to frack or not to frack is an old one, but putting aside for one moment the damage hydraulic fracturing could be doing to mother earth's innards, the academics at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut have warned that living anywhere near a fracking site could have a serious impact on your health, specifically your lungs and skin.
So, before all you hard-hatted industrialists out there dismiss the researchers as being full of hot gas, listen to what these dudes have to say about living in close proximity to natural gas extraction or as they're more commonly known, fracking sites.
The study, published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, reports that almost 40 per cent of people living less than two-thirds of a mile (1km) from a fracking site reported upper respiratory symptoms, compared to 18 per cent of people living over 1.5 miles (2km) away.
Do the math. Living near a fracking site more than doubles your chance of developing lung related problems.
Researchers compared the proximity of fracking sites to the frequency of self-reported skin, respiratory, gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, and neurological symptoms over a year.
Although they didn't find a significant increase in grouped neurological, cardiovascular, or gastrointestinal symptoms, they found that the prevalence of skin and respiratory problems were a lot higher for those living close to fracking sites.
"Our study suggests that natural gas drilling may increase the risk of health symptoms in people living near the wells," explained the study's senior author Meredith Stowe. "We believe our findings support the need for further research into the health and environmental implications of this form of natural gas extraction."
Although the study has yet to identify the exact source of the problem, Dr Peter Rabinowitz at the University of Washington's School of Public health is under no illusion that the risk from fracking sites is very real.
"The effect we found persisted in the analyses, even after adjusting for gender, age, educational level, smoking, and awareness of environmental risk factors."The study certainly makes for bleak reading, especially for anyone living near a fracking site, but fracking experts such as the director of PHE's Centre for Radiation, Chemical and Environmental Hazards, still insists that if fracking is properly regulated, the risks to public health are minimal.
"The currently available evidence indicates that the potential risks to public health from exposure to emissions that are associated with shale gas extraction are low if the operations are properly run and regulated."Do you 'fracking' believe it?