Assessment and longitudinal analysis of health impacts and stressors perceived to result from unconventional shale gas development in the Marcellus Shale region.

International Journal of Environmental and Occupational Health, 2013;19(2):104-112
Ferrar, K., Kriesky, J., Christen, C.L., Pavlic-Marshal, L., Malone, S., Ravi Sharma, R., Goldstein, B. D.

Peer Reviewed, Public Health

Abstract

Introduction: Concerns for health and social impacts have arisen as a result of Marcellus Shale unconventional natural gas development. Our goal was to document the self-reported health impacts and mental and physical health stressors perceived to result from Marcellus Shale development.

Methods: Two sets of interviews were conducted with a convenience sample of community members living proximal to Marcellus Shale development, session 1 March‐September 2010 (n = 33) and session 2 January‐April 2012 (n = 20). Symptoms of health impacts and sources of psychological stress were coded. Symptom and stressor counts were quantified for each interview. The counts for each participant were compared longitudinally.

Results: Participants attributed 59 unique health impacts and 13 stressors to Marcellus Shale development. Stress was the most frequently-reported symptom. Over time, perceived health impacts increased (P = 0·042), while stressors remained constant (P = 0·855).

Discussion: Exposure-based epidemiological studies are needed to address identified health impacts and those that may develop as unconventional natural gas extraction continues. Many of the stressors can be addressed immediately.

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