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Comment published on 13 January 2020, see Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(2), 504.
Open AccessArticle

Assessing Agreement in Exposure Classification between Proximity-Based Metrics and Air Monitoring Data in Epidemiology Studies of Unconventional Resource Development

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Shell Health Risk Science Team, Shell Oil Company, 150 North Dairy Ashford, Houston, TX 77079, USA
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Shell Health Risk Science Team, Shell International B.V., Carel Van Bylandtlaan 16, 2596 HR The Hague, The Netherlands
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(17), 3055; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16173055
Received: 16 July 2019 / Revised: 16 August 2019 / Accepted: 16 August 2019 / Published: 23 August 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Shale Gas and Fracking: Impacts on Health and the Environment)
Recent studies of unconventional resource development (URD) and adverse health effects have been limited by distance-based exposure surrogates. Our study compared exposure classifications between air pollutant concentrations and “well activity” (WA) metrics, which are distance-based exposure proxies used in Marcellus-area studies to reflect variation in time and space of residential URD activity. We compiled Pennsylvania air monitoring data for benzene, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, fine particulates and sulfur dioxide, and combined this with data on nearly 9000 Pennsylvania wells. We replicated WA calculations using geo-coordinates of monitors to represent residences and compared exposure categories from air measurements and WA at the site of each monitor. There was little agreement between the two methods for the pollutants included in the analysis, with most weighted kappa coefficients between −0.1 and 0.1. The exposure categories agreed for about 25% of the observations and assigned inverse categories 16%–29% of the time, depending on the pollutant. Our results indicate that WA measures did not adequately distinguish categories of air pollutant exposures and employing them in epidemiology studies can result in misclassification of exposure. This underscores the need for more robust exposure assessment in future analyses and cautious interpretation of these existing studies. View Full-Text
Keywords: hydraulic fracturing; unconventional development; exposure measure hydraulic fracturing; unconventional development; exposure measure
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Wendt Hess, J.; Bachler, G.; Momin, F.; Sexton, K. Assessing Agreement in Exposure Classification between Proximity-Based Metrics and Air Monitoring Data in Epidemiology Studies of Unconventional Resource Development. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16, 3055.

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