Drilling & Fracturing
Study shows childhood cancer rates not impacted by oil and gas operations
An important study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine found no link between hydraulic fracturing and childhood cancer. The study was independently peer reviewed and the authors claimed no conflicts of interest.
The study sought to "evaluate whether childhood cancer incidence is associated with counties with hydraulic fracturing (HF) by looking at counties that have natural gas development activity, both before and after it occurred." The results showed no difference in standard incidence rates of childhood cancer, childhood leukemia, or childhood central nervous system tumors.
The authors state, "we found no evidence that persons living in HF counties experienced higher childhood cancer rates overall or for childhood leukemia specifically after HF drilling commenced."
The results of this study are in direct opposition with claims made by "Gasland" director, Josh Fox, that "people living within a half-mile of an oil or gas well have a 66 percent higher chance of getting cancer." As noted in an excellent Energy in Depth article, "such claims are addressed in this latest study, which demonstrates why the data behind them is flawed and/or superficial."
While this latest study was conducted in Pennsylvania, researchers also found no connection between hydraulic fracturing and cancer rates in the Barnett Shale natural gas field in Texas. As reported in an Associated Press article, titled "Experts: Some fracking critics use bad science," David Risser, an epidemiologist with the Texas Cancer Registry, said that researchers checked state health data and found no evidence of an increase in the [Texas] counties where Josh Fox claimed that a spike in cancer rates supposedly occurred.
Similar statements were issued by other cancer researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas and by Chandini Portteus, the vice president of research at Susan G. Komen for the Cure, a major cancer advocacy group based in Dallas.
This latest study contributes important new scientific cancer research and should allay concerns that may have been spawned by reckless and unscientific claims. In the words of the authors of this latest study, their results "offer comfort concerning health effects of [hydraulic fracturing] on childhood cancers."