Research suggests babies born near fracking sites more likely to experience health complications


Nick Fetty | August 26, 2014
A natural gas fracking operation in Shreveport, Louisiana. (Daniel Foster/Flickr)
A natural gas fracking operation near Shreveport, Louisiana. (Daniel Foster/Flickr)

The first study to examine the effects of hydraulic fracturing – or fracking – on babies born near wells found that these infants are more likely to experience health risks.

While this study is still preliminary, the researchers found that congenital heart defects were more common for babies born near gas wells in Colorado, the state with the nation’s strictest oil and gas regulations. Babies born to mothers who live within a mile of 125 or more wells experienced a 30 percent increase in congenital heart defects compared to those with no wells within 10 miles. The study was published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives back in January.

A separate, non-peer reviewed study found that babies born near gas wells in Pennsylvania were more likely to experience low birth weight which can lead to developmental issues while local authorities in Utah are investigating after a recent spate of stillbirths, likely linked to unsafe levels of air pollution caused by the the gas and oil industry. The air quality in rural parts of Utah was comparable to the amount of exhaust from 100 million automobiles within a year. Infant mortality rates saw a major increase in Utah within four years with two deaths in 2010 compared to 12 in 2013.

The Colorado study was deemed non-conclusive because it did not account for “different types of wells, water quality, mothers’ behavior or genetics.” The American Heart Association has provided funding to conduct a similar study over the next four years.

Colorado wildfire smoke drifting over Iowa


Smoke billows from a wildfire in Colorado. Photo by USDAgov, Flickr.

Smoke from the Colorado wildfires has drifted over Iowa, and while it isn’t expected to generate any health problems in the state, Iowan’s can expect redder skies at dawn and dusk until the plume passes.

“Primarily, you’ll notice it toward the evening hours. The sky will be hazier,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Kevin Skow. “The sunsets and sunrises will be redder than normal.”

Meteorologists say they haven’t observed any dust particles in the smoke that could settle on structures in Iowa, and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources still lists the state’s air quality as “good.”

For more information, read the full article from the Des Moines Register.