At the core of the hydraulic fracturing (fracking) debate is the level of perceived risk involved with extractive industries, such as the release of toxic and carcinogenic chemicals, increased population growth, and truck traffic. However, industry supporters of fracking acclaim the benefits of oil and gas drilling, such as energy independence and economic gains. In this study, we examine the perceived impacts of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) on community health and well-being based on interviews with anti-fracking activists in Denton, Texas who were active in the “anti-fracking” community organization, Frack Free Denton (FFD). Emergent from the interviews, we discuss the socio-psychological stressors these community members experienced following the introduction of hydraulic fracturing in the region. Some of the major socio-psychological impacts included perceived physical health risks through anxiety surrounding toxins and carcinogens that may be released through this process. Participants also discussed stress put on community relations, primarily through the form of an “us vs. them” mentality related to the support for, or opposition to, fracking in the community. Moreover, we found anxiety and stress surrounding trust in community members’ relationships with governing bodies, such as the federal government, state government, and local governments. This research will allow for a more comprehensive understanding of how fracking can impact the socio-psychological well-being of the community.
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