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Your Environment. Your Health.

Impacts of Fracking

Partnerships for Environmental Public Health (PEPH)

photo of drilling operation

January 14, 2013

The practice of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) to extract natural gas has expanded in recent years. The practice has fueled a national debate about the shale gas extraction process. Some people think that this practice will help provide for energy security. Others are concerned about the environment. Increasingly there are people who are worried about how fracking might affect their health and safety. In this podcast, we talk about the science of fracking, what we do—and don’t—know about its impacts, and how Health Impact Assessments could be used as an approach to identify how drilling might affect community members.

Expert

Roxana Zulauf WItter, M.D.

Roxana Zulauf Witter, M.D., is an assistant research professor in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health in the Colorado School of Public Health (CSPH). Dr. Witter’s research on identifying and mitigating the potential health effects of natural gas development focuses on the impacts of chemical emissions on physical health as well as the impacts of community change on psychosocial health. She is the principal investigator for the Health Impact Assessment for natural gas drilling in Battlement Mesa, Colorado. She is also program director for the Occupational and Environmental Medicine Residency and co-director of the Environmental and Occupational Interdisciplinary Symposium in CSPH. She completed her B.S. at Georgetown University and earned an M.S. degree in microbiology and immunology, an M.D. degree, an M.S.P.H., degree and completed a residency in occupational and environmental medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. She has also spent several years in private clinical occupational and environmental medicine practice and working as medical director for a Denver-based international corporation.

For More Information

Webinar: Hydraulic Fracturing and Environmental Public Health 
Watch two experts discuss the environmental health impacts of fracking in this archived webinar, held as part of the NIEHS Partnerships for Environmental Public Health webinar series.

Special Issue of New Solutions 
Open-access articles on the scientific, economic, social, environmental, and health policy concerns related to shale gas extraction.

EPA’s Hydraulic Fracturing Page 
Explore basic information, regulations, and studies on fracking from the EPA.

Fractracker 
View articles, maps, and data on fracking, primarily focused on activities in the Marcellus Shale region of the United States.

FracFocus 
A registry of chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing managed by the Ground Water Protection Council and Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission.

Additional references

McKenzie LM, Witter RZ, Newman LS, Adgate JL (2012). Human health risk assessment of air emissions from development of unconventional natural gas resources. Sci Total Environ. 424:79-87. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2012.02.018  .

Tillet T. (2013). Summit discusses public health implications of fracking. Environmental Health Perspectives.  http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/2013/01/121-a15/ (http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/2013/01/121-a15/)

Witter R, McKenzie L, Towle M, Stinson K, Scott K, Newman L, Adgate J (2010). Health impact assessment for battlement mesa, Garfield County Colorado   [accessed 25 September 2012].

We want your feedback!

Send comments, questions, and suggestions for future podcast topics to podcast@niehs.nih.gov .

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