New research suggests that Pennsylvania residents with the highest exposure to active natural gas wells operated by the hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) industry are nearly twice as likely to suffer from a combination of migraine headaches, chronic nasal and sinus symptoms and severe fatigue.
Researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, reporting online August 25 in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, say their findings add to a growing body of evidence linking the fracking industry to health problems.
“These three health conditions can have debilitating impacts on people’s lives,” says first author Dr. Aaron W. Tustin, a resident physician in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at the Bloomberg School. “In addition, they cost the health care system a lot of money. Our data suggest these symptoms are associated with proximity to the fracking industry.”
For their study, Tustin and his colleagues created a questionnaire and received responses from 7,785 adult primary care patients of the Geisinger Health System, a health care provider that covers 40 counties in north and central Pennsylvania.
The questionnaires were returned between April and October of 2014.
The researchers found 1,765 respondents (23 percent) suffered from migraines, 1,930 people (25 percent) experienced severe fatigue and 1,850 (24 percent) had current symptoms of chronic rhinosinusitis (defined as three or more months of nasal and sinus symptoms).