These rates varied widely based on the region of the state investigated by researchers. In the five heavily-fracked counties in the northeast part of the state, the number of deaths from 2003-2006 vs. 2007-2010 climbed from 36 to 60, a statistically significant rate increase of 66%. The rate in the five counties in southwest Pennsylvania with active drilling rose 18%, from 157 to 178 deaths, but that rise was not statistically significant.
“These results raise serious questions about potential health hazards of fracking, especially since fetuses and infants are most susceptible to the effects of environmental pollutants,” states Joseph Mangano MPH MBA, a co-author of the study. “Health officials should conduct short- and long-term and epidemiology studies to better understand the extent to which local residents are affected.”
“A major component of early infant mortality is congenital malformation, e.g., heart, neurological, and kidney defects. These effects are known to be caused by exposures to radium and uranium in drinking water,” says Dr. Chris Busby, also a co-author of the
study. “We found that infant death rates were significantly high in highly-fracked counties in northeast Pennsylvania with the highest number of private water wells, suggesting it is drinking water contamination driving the effect.”
Busby, C. and Mangano, J.J. (2017) There’s a World Going on Underground—Infant Mortality and Fracking in Pennsylvania. Journal of Environmental Protection, 8, 381-393. https://doi.org/10.4236/jep.2017.84028
May 23, 2017,