WEDNESDAY, March 22, 2023 (HealthDay News) -- Older adults living near fracking sites could have a high risk for poor cardiovascular outcomes, according to a study published in the March issue of The Lancet Planetary Health.
Kevin S. Trickey, from the University of Chicago, and colleagues assessed the effects of unconventional natural gas development (UNGD) on population health in local communities. The analysis included Medicare claims (2002 to 2015) in Pennsylvania ZIP codes with fracking and neighboring New York communities without fracking.
The researchers found that Pennsylvania ZIP codes that started UNGD in 2008 to 2010 were associated with more hospitalizations for cardiovascular diseases in 2012 to 2015 than would be expected in the absence of UNGD. In 2015, there were an additional 11.8, 21.6, and 20.4 hospitalizations for acute myocardial infarction, heart failure, and ischemic heart disease, respectively, per 1,000 Medicare beneficiaries. Even as UNGD growth slowed, hospitalizations increased and persisted in sensitivity analyses.
"Although we can't point to one specific part of fracking operations as the culprit, folks living near fracking sites could be affected by exposure to things like air or water pollution that often come with fracking activity," Trickey said in a statement. "Our study connects nearby fracking activity to real, serious human health outcomes, suggesting it's not just a matter of economics or environmental sustainability -- but that policymakers and residents alike should start prioritizing the health of citizens, whether drilling new wells or plugging old ones."