Skip to Main Content

Hydraulic Fracturing

Lots of activity on site at a natural gas well pad in eastern Ohio.

Background: Unconventional oil and natural gas development is a complex process of extracting oil and gas from low-permeable rock formations that were inaccessible prior to recent technological advances in hydraulic fracturing and directional drilling. It has expanded rapidly in the past decade, and concerns have been raised about the potential health impacts. Chemicals involved in or produced by unconventional oil and gas development may include known or suspected reproductive and development toxicants and carcinogens. These compounds may be released into air or water, potentially exposing nearby populations. There is limited information about whether this process could contaminate the air or water in nearby communities and whether any adverse health effects may result.

Objectives: Our research team is conducting the Ohio Water and Air Quality Study, in which we are collecting and analyzing water and air samples as well as administering health questionnaires in communities with natural gas extraction. Our goal is to better understand whether people living close to unconventional wells have higher concentrations of environmental pollutants in their air or water compared to those living farther away, and whether there is a link between proximity to unconventional development or environmental chemicals and health problems.