University of Colorado at Boulder
BMP of Oil and Gas Development


Public Health Risks


As of 2014, most studies addressing the public health implications of oil and gas development have been either predictive and/or descriptive hypothesis generating. The few analytic studies are preliminary and do not provide a enough evidence to conclusively determine if oil and gas operations cause health effects in nearby populations. Existing studies have provided evidence that hazards are inherently present in and around oil and gas operations and that populations are frequently exposed to these hazards. People living near oil and gas operations have reported that oil and gas operations affect their health and quality of life, particularly through traffic accidents, air and water pollution, and social disruption expressed as psychosocial stress.

For more information, see the following reviews which summarize the current state of the science on the potential public health effects associated with oil and gas development:

Adgate, J.L., Goldstein, B. D., and McKenzie, L.M. “Potential Public Health Hazards, Exposures, and Health Effects from Unconventional Natural Gas Development”. Environmental Science and Technology, Volume 48 (15): 8307-8320, 2014.

Penning, T.M., Breysse, P.N., Gray, K., Howarth, M., Beizhan, Y. “Environmental Health Research Recommendations from the Inter-Environmental Health Sciences Core Center Working Group on Unconventional Natural Gas Drilling Operations”. Environmental Health Perspectives, Volume 122 (11):1155-1159, 2014.

Shonkoff, S.B., Hayes, J., Finkel, M.L. “Environmental Public Health Dimensions of Shale and Tight Gas Development”. Environmental Health Perspectives, Volume 122 (8): 787-795 2014.

Werner, A.K., Vink, S., Watt, K., Jagals, P. “Environmental Health Impacts of Unconventional Natural Gas Development: A review of the current strength of evidence”. Science of the Total Environment, Volume 505 (2-15): 1127-1141, 2014.

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