Health symptoms in residents living near shale gas activity: A retrospective record review from the Environmental Health Project.

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Preventive medicine reports, ISSN: 2211-3355, Vol: 8, Page: 112-115

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Weinberger, Beth; Greiner, Lydia H; Walleigh, Leslie; Brown, David
Elsevier BV
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Increasing evidence demonstrates an association between health symptoms and exposure to unconventional natural gas development (UNGD). The purpose of this study is to describe the health of adults in communities with intense UNGD who presented for evaluation of symptoms. Records of 135 structured health assessments conducted between February 2012 and October 2015 were reviewed retrospectively. Publicly available data were used to determine proximity to gas wells. Analysis was restricted to records of adults who lived within 1 km of a well in Pennsylvania and denied employment in the gas industry ( = 51). Symptoms in each record were reviewed by a physician. Symptoms that could be explained by pre-existing or concurrent conditions or social history and those that began or worsened prior to exposure were excluded. Exposure was calculated using date of well drilling within 1 km. The number of symptoms/participant ranged from 0 to 19 (mean = 6.2; SD = 5.1). Symptoms most commonly reported were: sleep disruption, headache, throat irritation, stress or anxiety, cough, shortness of breath, sinus problems, fatigue, nausea, and wheezing. These results are consistent with findings of prior studies using self-report without physician review. In comparison, our results are strengthened by the collection of health data by a health care provider, critical review of symptoms for possible alternative causes, and confirmation of timing of exposure to unconventional natural gas well relative to symptom onset or exacerbation. Our findings confirm earlier studies and add to the growing body of evidence of the association between symptoms and exposure to UNGD.