Babies born within 1.9 miles of fracking sites are at greater risk of being born with low birth weight, researchers say – increasing the likelihood of infant mortality, ADHD and asthma.
Researchers led by Michael Greenstone of the University of Chicago analysed records of more than 1.1 million births in Pennsylvania from 2004 to 2013.
The researchers found no health effects in babies born further away than 1.9 miles from fracking sites – but the closer babies were, the more likely they were to be underweight.
Babies born within one kilometer (0.6 miles) were 25% more likely to be born underweight.
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Michael Greenstone told the Los Angeles Times, ‘This study provides the strongest large-scale evidence of a link between the pollution that stems from hydraulic fracturing activities and our health, specifically the health of babies.’
What’s less clear is what is causing this effect, the researchers say.
Researcher Katherine Meckel of UCLA says, ‘While we know pollution from hydraulic fracturing impacts our health, we do not yet know where that pollution is coming from – from the air or water, from chemicals onsite, or an increase in traffic.’