A new study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), suggests that fracking may contribute to higher instances of asthma. It was recently found that those who lived near fracking sites had a more difficult time controlling their asthma than those who did not.
While the study involved 35,000 people living with asthma, the journal stated that the sample size was too small and that it is not proof of an effect at this time. Further studies will be conducted to attempt to find a correlation.
During the study, doctors at the Geisinger Clinic in Pennsylvania reviewed tens of thousands of asthma patient files in more than 35 counties around the state from 2005 to 2012. Early in the study was during a time when fracking in the state became the norm, making this period rife for study.
The research found that asthmatics living near bigger wells were 50 percent more likely to have an asthmatic flare up than those who lived further away, especially during the preparation stage of the fracking site.
During the production stage, or when the fracking site was most active, they were four times as likely to have a mild flare. A mild flare, in this study, was defined as needing new drugs to help control symptoms, but not a trip to the emergency department.
Dan Murphy, who works at Asthma UK and was not involved in the study, said:
“Asthma is a complex condition affecting one in 11 people in the UK, yet years of research underfunding means it still remains a relative mystery.
While this study suggests that living near fracking industry wells may increase risk of an asthma attack, more research is needed to get a clearer picture of the connection between the two and the impact on people with asthma.”
The study, however, was limited as it only used the participant’s address at the time they registered at the clinic. It did not account for moving or where the patients worked, as working closer to a fracking site could contribute to worsening of the condition.
While researchers say that this does not prove a link between fracking and asthma, it is worth exploring further.