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Fracking In Pennsylvania Contaminates Drinking Water & Harms Pregnant Women

New research has shown that fracking in Pennsylvania has contaminated the drinking water where pregnant women live. Dr. Sandra Steingraber shared a thread on Twitter along with the link to the study. The study found evidence that drilling shale gas wells negatively impacts both the drinking water quality and the health of infants, indicating large social costs of water pollution.

In her thread, Dr. Steingraber noted that this is a first of its kind study that used exact locations of mothers’ residences, gas wells, and public drinking water sources. The study combined the data with dates of infant births, measurement of water contaminants, and the timing of drilling and fracking activities.

The results, she added, showed that prenatal exposure to a fracking well drilled within one kilometer (or 0.62 miles) of water sources, along with drilling near a mother’s home, raises risks for both preterm birth and low birthweight. Preterm birth, she added, is the leading cause of disability in the United States.

“Notably, the increases in drinking water contaminants near fracking activities documented by the research team often were not sufficient to trigger regulatory violations. The authors thus conclude that the infant health harms they found were either due to increases in regulated water contaminants below the threshold level OR ‘unregulated contaminants that we, unfortunately, cannot observe.'”

Dr. Steingraber also added her own context.

“Both could be true. The federal government has legal limits for just over 90 contaminants in drinking water. No new chemicals have been added to the Maximum Contaminant Level list for 20 years, nor were limits set with prenatal or infant development in mind.

“Back to the results: ‘We find consistent and robust evidence that drilling shale gas wells negatively impacts both drinking water quality and infant health.’

“Personal comment: I’ve been reading fracking and public health data pretty much daily for 10 years, and I still cry. Is anyone okay with these data? I’m not.”

You can read Dr. Steingraber’s full thread here.

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