Environmental Justice Society in Australia

New Report Finds Fracking Poses Health Risks to Pregnant Women & Children

Impacts of Fracking

Fracking, also known as hydraulic fracking, is a process in which the earth is drilled into, after which a water mixture is directed into the rock through the drill at a high pressure to release the gas trapped inside. The mixture is made up of sand, water, and chemicals. It is injected into the rock at high pressure, allowing the trapped gas to flow up to the hole’s mouth.

Fracking has been in existence for several years. However, it took some time for fracking to become widespread like it is now. There has been what can only be referred to as a “fracking boom” in recent times. As fracking has become more common, a lot of concerns have been raised about it.

The major concern raised about fracking is the environmental implications that the process causes. The process of fracking requires a huge amount of water. The water must be transported to the site of the fracking at a high environmental cost. Fracking has also been linked to an earth tremor.

Environmentalists have also expressed concern about the potential escape of carcinogenic chemicals during the drilling process, which could contaminate groundwater around the site. It also distracts government and firms from investing in renewable energy, as opposed to fossil fuels.

New reports have been released that have found that fracking is dangerous to pregnant women and children. Researchers had analysed data from over a million births in Pennsylvania between 2004 and 2013, the period before and after fracking in Pennsylvania began.

The research posted in Science Advances found that babies born to women who lived up to 1.8 miles from the fracking site had poor health. Babies born to women who lived within 0.6 miles from the site suffered larger impacts on their health.

The negative effects of fracking were observed in expecting mothers. A study carried out in 2019 by the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University identified a link between mental health issues and proximity to fracking sites during pregnancy. Women who lived closer to the higher number of fracking wells were at higher risk of developing depression and anxiety.

Joan A. Casey, the lead author of the study, observed that other research found that women who have depression or anxiety during the pregnancy period have a higher risk of developing postpartum depression.

Research has also found that the damage extends from the mother to the child. Research has found that the compounds used in creating the mixture and fracking are linked to infertility, stillbirth, preterm birth, miscarriage, impaired fetal growth, and delayed or premature sexual development in the baby.

The closer the expecting mother lives to a fracturing site and the more exposure she gets to the harmful substances used in the development of shale gas, the more likely it is for the baby to be born underweight or born with congenital disabilities.

Governments have not taken a stance against fracking, and the practice has been becoming more common. It’s high time a change occurs.