Rashes, urinary tract infections, and kidney stones requiring hospital stays are more common in areas with more drilling, according to a new study
Fracking may put Pennsylvania communities at greater risk for skin, genital, and urinary diseases, according to new research.
The study, which will be published in the March issue of the journal Public Health, looked at hospital records in Pennsylvania’s 67 counties from 2003–2014.
Researchers found that the more fracking wells were in a county, the more hospitalizations the county saw for genital and urinary problems like urinary tract infections, kidney infections, and kidney stones. Fracking, another name for hydraulic fracturing, is a process of extracting oil and gas from the Earth by drilling deep wells and injecting liquid at high pressure.
"It’s important point to keep in mind that hospitalizations are for acute illness or serious exacerbations of chronic illness," Alina Denham, a PhD Candidate in Health Services Research and Policy at the University of Rochester and lead author of the study, told EHN.
"So if we see strong associations with hospitalizations, it’s likely that additional cases of mild symptoms for the same illnesses have been addressed at home or in an outpatient setting, or not addressed at all.”
The researchers observed a similar link between fracking wells and hospitalizations for skin issues like rashes caused by cellulitis and abscesses.
But while the link between fracking and genital and urinary issues was clear, the many illnesses that could fall under the category of skin-related issues in hospital diagnosis codes (everything from acne and eczema to diaper rash and ulcers) make the study’s findings […]