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Study: Fracking can increase the risk of asthma four-fold
According to a US study, the risk of asthma near natural gas fracking facilities can be up to four times higher than under normal circumstances. The technology is associated with other health risks. The use of the method is being discussed in Germany and numerous other countries.
Fracking has been practiced in the USA for years, where a third of the total natural gas production now comes from this technology. The use of the method is also being discussed in Germany and numerous other countries. But there are big reservations about the technology. Studies have shown that fracking chemicals can get into the groundwater. And a study from the United States found last year that fracking could lead to more premature births and high-risk pregnancies. According to a recent study, this technique also increases the risk of asthma.
Increased asthma risk near fracking facilities
According to a US study, the risk of asthma near fracking facilities for natural gas production can be up to four times higher than under normal environmental conditions. This emerges from a scientific study recently published in the American Medical Association's journal JAMA Internal Medicine. The study reportedly relates to data that researchers gathered in Pennsylvania between 2005 and 2012. A total of over 35,000 asthma patients between the ages of five and 90 were considered. As part of their investigation, the scientists recorded the patient's place of residence as well as the location, size and extent of the nearby natural gas production. Then they compared the data with asthma patients who had no asthma attacks in the same year.
Health effects are worrying
It was shown that asthma attacks were "1.5 to 4 times higher" in patients living closer to a large number of natural gas wells or larger production facilities. As the study states, taking into account other factors that can trigger asthma, such as proximity to busy streets, family predisposition, or smoking, did not lead to a different result. "The growing number of studies showing the health impact of this industry is worrying," study author Brian S. Schwartz said in a statement from Johns Hopkins University (JHU).
Fracking boom in the United States
Senior scientist Sara G. Rasmussen of the Bloomberg School's Environmental Health Department at JHU said it was the first study of asthma related to fracking technology, but, "We now have several studies that look at health effects from the indicate unconventional production of natural gas ”. Now the exact causes would have to be determined "so that the industry could be made safer". The fracking industry in the United States has continued to grow in recent years. Pennsylvania has more than 6,000 holes. The question of air and water quality is therefore becoming increasingly important.
Experts call for a total ban
It has long been known that factors such as air pollution, stress or sleep disorders can make asthma worse. These studies have also linked these three factors to the fracking industry. Fracking is used particularly in the USA to extract natural gas, but also oil, from rock layers from which the raw material cannot simply flow through a borehole. Rock is broken up at great depth under high hydraulic pressure, whereby a liquid mixture of water, sand and chemicals is usually first conducted through boreholes and pressed horizontally into the respective target layer. This creates cracks in the rock through which gas or oil can escape and then be carried to the surface through pipes through the borehole. With this technology it is possible to exploit otherwise unusable deposits of raw materials. In Germany there is considerable resistance to fracking due to the feared environmental consequences. The Federal Environment Agency (UBA) is demanding a legal regulation of the technology. Fracking should in principle be prohibited in water protection and medicinal spring protection areas as well as other sensitive areas. An extensive risk assessment should be carried out both before testing and before drilling. Nature conservation associations and many other experts are calling for a complete ban on technology. (ad)