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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(5), 540; doi:10.3390/ijerph14050540

Is Increasing Coal Seam Gas Well Development Activity Associated with Increasing Hospitalisation Rates in Queensland, Australia? An Exploratory Analysis 1995–2011

1
Sustainable Minerals Institute, The University of Queensland, St. Lucia, QLD 4072, Australia
2
Menzies Health Institute Queensland, Griffith University, Logan, QLD 4131, Australia
3
College of Public Health, Medical and Veterinary Sciences, James Cook University, Townsville, QLD 4811, Australia
4
Children’s Health and Environment Programme, University of Queensland, Centre for Children’s Health Research, Brisbane, QLD 4101, Australia
5
Centre for Health Research, Western Sydney University, Penrith, NSW 2150, Australia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Paul B. Tchounwou
Received: 25 March 2017 / Revised: 6 May 2017 / Accepted: 6 May 2017 / Published: 18 May 2017
(This article belongs to the Section Environmental Health)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [1083 KB, uploaded 18 May 2017]   |  

Abstract

The majority of Australia’s coal seam gas (CSG) reserves are in Queensland, where the industry has expanded rapidly in recent years. Despite concerns, health data have not been examined alongside CSG development. This study examined hospitalisation rates as a function of CSG development activity in Queensland, during the period 1995–2011. Admissions data were examined with CSG well numbers, which served as a proxy for CSG development activity. Time series models were used to assess changes in hospitalisation rates for periods of “low”, “medium”, “high”, and “intense” activity compared to a period of “very low” activity, adjusting for covariates. “All-cause” hospitalisation rates increased monotonically with increasing gas well development activity in females (324.0 to 390.3 per 1000 persons) and males (294.2 to 335.4 per 1000 persons). Hospitalisation rates for “Blood/immune” conditions generally increased for both sexes. Female and male hospitalisation rates for “Circulatory” conditions decreased with increasing CSG activity. Hospitalisation rates were generally low for reproductive and birth outcomes; no clear associations were observed. This study showed some outcomes were associated with increasing CSG development activity. However, as a condition of data access, the population and outcomes were aggregated to a broad geographic study area rather than using higher geographic resolution data. Higher resolution data, as well as other data sources, should be explored. Further research should be conducted with an expanded time period to determine if these trends continue as the industry grows. View Full-Text
Keywords: coal seam gas; environmental health; hospital admissions; Queensland; time series; unconventional natural gas coal seam gas; environmental health; hospital admissions; Queensland; time series; unconventional natural gas
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Werner, A.K.; Cameron, C.M.; Watt, K.; Vink, S.; Jagals, P.; Page, A. Is Increasing Coal Seam Gas Well Development Activity Associated with Increasing Hospitalisation Rates in Queensland, Australia? An Exploratory Analysis 1995–2011. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14, 540.

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