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Special Issue "Environmental Health Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing"

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601). This special issue belongs to the section "Environmental Health".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (1 August 2018)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Professor Patrick Gurian

Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA
Website | E-Mail
Phone: 2158952889
Interests: risk analysis of environmental and infrastructure systems; environmental standard setting; Bayesian statistical modeling; community outreach and environmental health

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Hydraulic fracturing has opened up previously-inaccessible oil and gas deposits to economical recovery. At the same time, concerns have been raised over the health and ecological impacts of the process. A variety of potential impacts on health have been proposed including occupation accidents, water and air contamination, and stress associated with community changes. Regulatory approaches have spanned a range from acceptance to categorical bans of the practice. There is a need for research to identify the magnitude of the risks as well as mitigation options, so that appropriate regulatory actions can be taken. For this Special Issue we invite submissions examining the relationship between hydraulic fracturing activities and public health. The topic is construed broadly to include any research that contributes to identifying or mitigating health risks due to hydraulic fracturing. Studies of interest include epidemiological studies, risk assessments, environmental impact assessments, and regulatory policy analyses.

The first round submission deadline: 1 March 2017

 Prof. Dr. Patrick Gurian
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1600 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • regulatory compliance
  • hydraulic fracturing
  • occupational exposures
  • water quality
  • air quality
  • health impacts

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle Truck and Multivehicle Truck Accidents with Injuries Near Colorado Oil and Gas Operations
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15(9), 1861; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph15091861
Received: 31 July 2018 / Revised: 22 August 2018 / Accepted: 26 August 2018 / Published: 28 August 2018
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Abstract
Unconventional and conventional oil and gas (O&G) operations raise public health concerns, such as the potential impacts from trucking activity in communities that host these operations. In this work, we used two approaches to evaluate accidents in relation to O&G activities in the
[...] Read more.
Unconventional and conventional oil and gas (O&G) operations raise public health concerns, such as the potential impacts from trucking activity in communities that host these operations. In this work, we used two approaches to evaluate accidents in relation to O&G activities in the State of Colorado. First, we calculated the rate of truck accidents by computing the ratio of accident count and county population. When comparing counties with increased O&G operations to counties with less activity, we found that counties with more activity have greater rates of truck traffic accidents per capita (Rate Ratio = 1.07, p < 0.05, 95% CI: 1.01–1.13). Second, we laid a grid over the eleven counties of interest and counted, for each cell, the number of truck accidents, the number of multivehicle accidents with injuries, the number of homes, and the number of O&G wells. We then applied hurdle count models, using the accident counts as the outcomes and the number of homes and number of wells as independent variables. We found that both independent variables are significant predictors of truck accidents and multivehicle truck accidents. These accidents are of concern since they can have an impact on the people who live near O&G operations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Health Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing)
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Open AccessArticle The Human Right to Water and Unconventional Energy
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15(9), 1858; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph15091858
Received: 24 July 2018 / Revised: 10 August 2018 / Accepted: 11 August 2018 / Published: 28 August 2018
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Abstract
Access to water, in sufficient quantities and of sufficient quality is vital for human health. The United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (in General Comment 15, drafted 2002) argued that access to water was a condition for the enjoyment of
[...] Read more.
Access to water, in sufficient quantities and of sufficient quality is vital for human health. The United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (in General Comment 15, drafted 2002) argued that access to water was a condition for the enjoyment of the right to an adequate standard of living, inextricably related to the right to the highest attainable standard of health, and thus a human right. On 28 July 2010 the United Nations General Assembly declared safe and clean drinking water and sanitation a human right essential to the full enjoyment of life and all other human rights. This paper charts the international legal development of the right to water and its relevance to discussions surrounding the growth of unconventional energy and its heavy reliance on water. We consider key data from the country with arguably the most mature and extensive industry, the USA, and highlight the implications for water usage and water rights. We conclude that, given the weight of testimony of local people from our research, along with data from scientific literature, non-governmental organization (NGO) and other policy reports, that the right to water for residents living near fracking sites is likely to be severely curtailed. Even so, from the data presented here, we argue that the major issue regarding water use is the shifting of the resource from society to industry and the demonstrable lack of supply-side price signal that would demand that the industry reduce or stabilize its water demand per unit of energy produced. Thus, in the US context alone, there is considerable evidence that the human right to water will be seriously undermined by the growth of the unconventional oil and gas industry, and given its spread around the globe this could soon become a global human rights issue. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Health Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing)
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Open AccessArticle Exposures and Health Risks from Volatile Organic Compounds in Communities Located near Oil and Gas Exploration and Production Activities in Colorado (U.S.A.)
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15(7), 1500; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph15071500
Received: 12 April 2018 / Revised: 29 June 2018 / Accepted: 7 July 2018 / Published: 16 July 2018
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Abstract
The study objective was to use a preliminary risk based framework to evaluate the sufficiency of existing air data to answer an important public health question in Colorado: Do volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emitted into the air from oil and gas (OG) operations
[...] Read more.
The study objective was to use a preliminary risk based framework to evaluate the sufficiency of existing air data to answer an important public health question in Colorado: Do volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emitted into the air from oil and gas (OG) operations result in exposures to Coloradoans living at or greater than current state setback distances (500 feet) from OG operations at levels that may be harmful to their health? We identified 56 VOCs emitted from OG operations in Colorado and compiled 47 existing air monitoring datasets that measured these VOCs in 34 locations across OG regions. From these data, we estimated acute and chronic exposures and compared these exposures to health guideline levels using maximum and mean air concentrations. Acute and chronic non-cancer hazard quotients were below one for all individual VOCs. Hazard indices combining exposures for all VOCs were slightly above one. Lifetime excess cancer risk estimates for benzene were between 1.0 × 10−5–3.6 × 10−5 and ethylbenzene was 7.3 × 10−6. This evaluation identified a small sub-set of VOCs, including benzene and n-nonane, which should be prioritized for additional exposure characterization in site-specific studies that collect comprehensive time-series measurements of community scale exposures to better assess community exposures. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Health Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing)
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Open AccessArticle Frequency Analysis of Failure Scenarios from Shale Gas Development
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15(5), 885; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph15050885
Received: 27 February 2018 / Revised: 27 April 2018 / Accepted: 27 April 2018 / Published: 29 April 2018
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Abstract
This study identified and prioritized potential failure scenarios for natural gas drilling operations through an elicitation of people who work in the industry. A list of twelve failure scenarios of concern was developed focusing on specific events that may occur during the shale
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This study identified and prioritized potential failure scenarios for natural gas drilling operations through an elicitation of people who work in the industry. A list of twelve failure scenarios of concern was developed focusing on specific events that may occur during the shale gas extraction process involving an operational failure or a violation of regulations. Participants prioritized the twelve scenarios based on their potential impact on the health and welfare of the general public, potential impact on worker safety, how well safety guidelines protect against their occurrence, and how frequently they occur. Illegal dumping of flowback water, while rated as the least frequently occurring scenario, was considered the scenario least protected by safety controls and the one of most concern to the general public. In terms of worker safety, the highest concern came from improper or inadequate use of personal protective equipment (PPE). While safety guidelines appear to be highly protective regarding PPE usage, inadequate PPE is the most directly witnessed failure scenario. Spills of flowback water due to equipment failure are of concern both with regards to the welfare of the general public and worker safety as they occur more frequently than any other scenario examined in this study. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Health Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing)
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Open AccessArticle Assessing Residential Exposure Risk from Spills of Flowback Water from Marcellus Shale Hydraulic Fracturing Activity
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15(4), 727; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph15040727
Received: 1 March 2018 / Revised: 29 March 2018 / Accepted: 3 April 2018 / Published: 11 April 2018
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Abstract
Identifying sources of concern and risk from shale gas development, particularly from the hydraulic fracturing process, is an important step in better understanding sources of uncertainty within the industry. In this study, a risk assessment of residential exposure pathways to contaminated drinking water
[...] Read more.
Identifying sources of concern and risk from shale gas development, particularly from the hydraulic fracturing process, is an important step in better understanding sources of uncertainty within the industry. In this study, a risk assessment of residential exposure pathways to contaminated drinking water is carried out. In this model, it is assumed that a drinking water source is contaminated by a spill of flowback water; probability distributions of spill size and constituent concentrations are fit to historical datasets and Monte Carlo simulation was used to calculate a distribution of risk values for two scenarios: (1) use of a contaminated reservoir for residential drinking water supply and (2) swimming in a contaminated pond. The swimming scenario did not produce risks of concern from a single exposure of 1 h duration, but 11 such 1-h exposures did produce risks of 10−6 due to radionuclide exposure. The drinking water scenario over a 30-year exposure duration produced cancer risk values exceeding 10−6 for arsenic, benzene, benzo(a)pyrene, heptachlor, heptachlor epoxide, pentachlorophenol, and vinyl chloride. However, this extended exposure duration is probably not realistic for exposure by a spill event. Radionuclides produced risks in the residential drinking water scenario of 10−6 in just 8 h, a much more realistic timeline for continual exposure due to a spill event. In general, for contaminants for which inhalation exposure was applicable, this pathway produced the highest risks with exposure from ingestion posing the next greatest risk to human health followed by dermal absorption (or body emersion for radionuclides). Considering non-carcinogenic effects, only barium and thallium exceed target limits, where the ingestion pathway seems to be of greater concern than dermal exposure. Exposure to radionuclides in flowback water, particularly through the inhalation route, poses a greater threat to human health than other contaminants examined in this assessment and should be the focus of risk assessment and risk mitigation efforts. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Health Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing)
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Open AccessArticle Public Health and Unconventional Oil and Gas Extraction Including Fracking: Global Lessons from a Scottish Government Review
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15(4), 675; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph15040675
Received: 28 November 2017 / Revised: 22 February 2018 / Accepted: 29 March 2018 / Published: 4 April 2018
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Abstract
Unconventional oil and gas extraction (UOGE) including fracking for shale gas is underway in North America on a large scale, and in Australia and some other countries. It is viewed as a major source of global energy needs by proponents. Critics consider fracking
[...] Read more.
Unconventional oil and gas extraction (UOGE) including fracking for shale gas is underway in North America on a large scale, and in Australia and some other countries. It is viewed as a major source of global energy needs by proponents. Critics consider fracking and UOGE an immediate and long-term threat to global, national, and regional public health and climate. Rarely have governments brought together relatively detailed assessments of direct and indirect public health risks associated with fracking and weighed these against potential benefits to inform a national debate on whether to pursue this energy route. The Scottish government has now done so in a wide-ranging consultation underpinned by a variety of reports on unconventional gas extraction including fracking. This paper analyses the Scottish government approach from inception to conclusion, and from procedures to outcomes. The reports commissioned by the Scottish government include a comprehensive review dedicated specifically to public health as well as reports on climate change, economic impacts, transport, geology, and decommissioning. All these reports are relevant to public health, and taken together offer a comprehensive review of existing evidence. The approach is unique globally when compared with UOGE assessments conducted in the USA, Australia, Canada, and England. The review process builds a useful evidence base although it is not without flaws. The process approach, if not the content, offers a framework that may have merits globally. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Health Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing)
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