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Living near fracking sites can lead to an early death, new study warns

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Oil tank in cargo service terminal

By Joe Morgan via SWNS

Living near fracking sites can lead to an early death, warns a new study.

Elderly people are especially at risk if they live downwind or near directional drilling of oil, hydraulic fracturing or fracking.

Airborne contaminants emitted by Unconventional Oil and Gas Development (UOGD) and transported downwind are contributing to increased mortality, the researchers wrote.

While there have been connections with fracking and adverse effects on pre-natal, respiratory, cardiovascular and carcinogenic health, this is the largest study that examines mortality.

In the study, researchers studied more than 15 million people aged 65 and older living in a major fracking region in the US from 2001 to 2015.

They also gathered data from the records of more than 2.5 million oil and gas wells.

Researchers calculated the exposure to pollutants based on how close people lived to fracking operations, whether they were downwind, and adjusting for socioeconomic and environmental factors.

The closer to UOGD wells people lived, they had a 2.5 percent higher risk compared to those who didn't live close to wells.

The study also found that people who lived near UOGD wells as well as downwind of them were at higher risk of premature death than those living upwind, when both groups were compared with people who were unexposed.

Professor Petros Koutrakis, from Harvard University, said: "Although unconventional oil and gas development is a major industrial activity in the US, very little is known about its public health impacts.

"Our study is the first to link mortality to UOGD-related air pollutant exposures,

Prof Francesca Dominici, co-author also from Harvard, said: “There is an urgent need to understand the causal link between living near or downwind of UOGD and adverse health effects.”

The study was published in the journal Nature Energy.

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