An estimated 17.6 million Americans live within one mile of an active oil or gas well, according to a study published in Environmental Health Perspectives, a peer-reviewed open access journal published by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. The study was co-authored by Seth Shonkoff, an ESPM alumnus and visiting scholar, and is the first peer-reviewed nationwide measurement of the number of people living in close proximity to active oil and gas wells.
Studies have found that active oil and gas production degrades the quality of air, surface water and groundwater; contaminates soil; and elevates exposures to noise and light pollution. When people live within a mile of these operations, they have a higher risk of being hospitalized for numerous medical issues, including heart and neurological problems, cancers and increased asthma incidence and severity, according to separate peer-reviewed studies. Residential proximity to these operations has also been associated with adverse birth outcomes, including pre-term birth, lower birth weight, neural tube defects and congenital heart defects.