From the TUC

Health & Fracking: impacts and opportunity costs

30 Mar 2015, by in Environment

An independent report from health professionals Medact, Health and fracking: the impacts and opportunity costs, concludes that fracking generates numerous public health risks. A moratorium should apply until a full public impact assessment is “conducted by a body that is entirely independent of the shale gas industry.”Medact cover

Medact examines and builds on a number of reviews of the now considerable available scientific evidence on fracking health impacts, including:

Potential health hazards associated with air pollution and water contamination: these include toxins that are linked to increased risks of cancer, birth defects and lung disease;
•Negative health impacts associated with noise, traffic, spoilage of the natural environment, and local social and economic disruption.
•The indirect effects of climate change produced by greenhouse gas emissions.

The risks and serious nature of the hazards associated with fracking, coupled with the concerns and uncertainties about the regulatory system, indicate that shale gas development should be halted until a more detailed health and environmental impact assessment is undertaken.

Such has been the “dash for gas” that an independent assessment has not been conducted yet. It would need to:

  • account for all the potential risks to health, including their cumulative and compound effects on each other;
  • be tailored to the specific geological, economic, environmental and social characteristics of the areas targeted for fracking;
  • be based on projected levels of fracking at an industrial scale; and
  • be conducted by a body that is entirely independent of the shale gas industry. The cost of an adequate regulatory system would also need to be factored in.

The report has been supported by a letter, which calls for shale gas development to be put on hold, published in the British Medical Journal signed by Medact and the Climate and Health Council and senior health professionals. The letter states that:

“The arguments against fracking on public health and ecological grounds are overwhelming. There are clear grounds for adopting the precautionary principle and prohibiting fracking.”

The letter is signed by several senior health professionals including Professor Hugh Montgomery (UCL), Professor Sue Atkinson (Co-chair Climate and Health Council), Dr Clare Gerada (former chair of the RCGP) and Dr SheilaAdams (former Deputy Chief Medical Officer) amongst others.

One Response to Health & Fracking: impacts and opportunity costs

  1. Morag Parnell
    Apr 4th 2015, 4:02 pm

    Thank you for your excellent article.
    I am a member of the Women’s Environmental Network Scotland – set up 10 years ago to campaign for action to reduce/eliminate exposures to Occupational and Environmental Toxins This included an almost two year involvement with the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions committee.
    We are indeed grateful for the evidence supplied by the NY health professionals Compendium. Clearly we do not have relevant home grown health studies.We do have some useful comment from Australian Dr Geraldine McCarron given at the Public Inquiry in Falkirk.
    However back in 2013, I was incensed to see the blurb on Dart Energy’s website, attempting to allay any concern about the toxins in the TREATED Produced water from their Coal Bed Methane drillings at Airth , near Falkirk. This led to a paper from Jamie MacKenzie Hamilton and I for the Falkirk campaign group, FAUG on Potential Public Health effects. It was based on Dart’ s published data with additional information from an FOI to SEPA.
    This is about ( we are aware it is only a few of) the actual toxins in the water and might be useful to other campaigners.
    I find I cannot attach our paper to this note but it can be found on the Falkirk site:FAUG,org.
    Also worth noting there is the Community Charted drawn up by the Group and signed by 2500 local residents.
    Very best wishes;
    Morag Parnell