A new study found a link between fracking and higher risk of having asthma attacks in patients that live near fracking wells.
Fracking is an oil and gas drilling method that has been the target of harsh criticism over the last years. The method pumps chemicals, sand and water into the ground creating tremendous pressures that open pockets of oil and gas.
Critics have put the blame on the drilling technology for numerous local earthquakes and instances of groundwater contamination.
However, a new study suggests that the unconventional drilling method could impact human health in unprecedented ways.
The technology was often associated with:
- air, water, and soil pollution,
- high levels of stress,
- and urbanization of pristine natural areas.
Dr. Brian Schwartz, lead author of the research, thinks that these factors may make asthma worse in patients living with the condition. Past studies had revealed that air pollution, stress, foul smells also worsen the respiratory disease’s symptoms.
Dr. Schwartz’ team couldn’t tell which of the said factors worsen the illness, but they have at least two theories: stress and air pollution. Researchers believe that both factors can exacerbate the condition but it is unclear which is more dangerous.
Additionally, the latest research hasn’t found failproof evidence that fracking makes asthma symptoms worse. Yet scientists did find a link between the two.
The research team advises patients living in the vicinity of fracking sites to talk with their physicians if they notice that their symptoms get worse. Doctors will be able to tell them what to do to reduce stress and noise levels and avoid air pollution associated with the drilling method.
Fracking industry commented on the findings saying that the latest study is biased.
An industry representative underscored that there is no evidence of direct causation. Plus, the condition can be triggered by many factors, while study participants who saw their symptoms get worse and needed hospitalization were smokers, older, or had other underlying medical conditions including obesity.
The industry also challenged the study findings because Schwarz is member of the Post Carbon Institute, an entity that seeks to ban fracking and make population aware about its drawbacks.
The study which was published Tuesday in the JAMA Internal Medicine, was based on medical data from 35,000 asthma patients.
Image Source: Vimeo