04/30/2012 - The Institute of Medicine will examine whether the process of hydraulic fracturing to extract natural gas from rock “poses potential health challenges,” a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention official said.
Health concerns related to fracking, in which millions of gallons of chemically treated water are forced underground to break up rock and free gas, include the potential for water contamination and air pollution, Christopher Portier, director of CDC’s National Center for Environmental Health, said at a workshop in Washington today.
Fracking has enabled energy companies to access fuel trapped in previously impenetrable shale rock, reversing a decline in U.S. gas production. Environmentalists have claimed the chemicals used contribute to water contamination and airborne toxins.
One aim of the Institute of Medicine workshop is to discuss whether studies called “health impact assessments” can help communities plan for gas wells and mitigate public health problems. A “comprehensive” study can cost as much as $300,000 and take a year of work, said Aaron Wernham, project director at the Pew Charitable Trusts’ Health Impact Project.
Read the full article, Fracking ‘Health Challenges’ to Be Examined by U.S. Advisers, on Bloomberg's website.