More leukemia in young children living near Pennsylvania fracking sites

New study finds that children born within 1.24 miles (2 kilometers) of an active well site were 2 to 3 times more likely to be diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia between the ages of 2 and 7.

Drill rig near a house in Washington County, Pennsylvania

Researchers at the Yale School of Public Health used the Pennsylvania Cancer Registry and their study was published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.  The study looked at 405 children diagnosed with that particular type of leukemia between 2009 and 2017.

Acute lymphoblastic leukemia is one of the most common childhood cancers, which is why the researchers chose to look at it. Additionally, a known cause is benzene, a chemical released by oil and gas drilling activities into both air and water. More than 10,000 unconventional natural gas wells were drilled and fracked in Pennsylvania between 2002 and 2017. The DEP has reported more than 1,000 spills in that period, along with fielding about 4,000 residential well water complaints between 2005 and 2014. Many who live in rural areas rely on water from private wells, about one-third of which are within two kilometers of a wellhead.

Susan Phillips | StateImpact Pennsylvania | August 17, 2022
The percentage of frac chemicals used may seem small until compared with the massive quantity of fluids used in each shale well.

“It really is a superb study. It looks at a potential problem in ways that include new exposure metrics, which are really needed.”

Dr. Bernard Goldstein, former dean of the University of Pittsburgh School of Public Health and an expert in environmental causes of childhood leukemia
Water buffalo holding replacement water for a home downhill from a shale gas production site in Washington County, PA

“The study also found that drinking water could be an important pathway of exposure to oil and gas-related chemicals. The authors applied a new exposure metric in this study that they call “IDups” (which stands for “inverse distance to the nearest upgradient unconventional oil and gas well”). This means that the researchers identified UOG wells that fell within a child’s watershed area — the zone from which a drinking water well serving their home would likely draw water — and calculated the distance from the home to the nearest of those UOG wells. UOG wells falling within the watershed area are expected to be more likely to impact the home’s drinking water supply, they said.”

Yale News | August 17, 2022
Toluene in well water near Washington County, Pennsylvania fracking

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6 Comments on “More leukemia in young children living near Pennsylvania fracking sites

    • Alarming part is that we haven’t seen any other online news, local newspaper or TV outlets cover that story, only StateImpact Pennsylvania and some national media outlets. Where are you Pittsburgh news??

  1. Bob,
    Please consider this my official request to subscribe to your outstanding blog, which I read via Debbie Borowiec’s LAWPA group postings.
    With deepest appreciation for all you do to make the world a healthier and better place to live.
    Eleanor Sharp

    • Wonder why most Pittsburgh news outlets haven’t even mentioned that news story — rather shocking when you consider how much drilling has, and will be, taking place in our tri-state area!

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