Shale Gas Extraction, also known as “hydrofracking” or “fracking,” is increasingly in the news as the deployment of the technologies has expanded, rural communities have transformed overnight, public awareness has increased, and regulations have developed. In many states, early discussions about shale gas extraction neglected to critically examine the environmental and public health impacts of hydrofracking technologies. As a result, the lack of information has limited the health system’s ability to address concerns by regulators at the industry, employee, community, state and federal levels.
In July 2012, North Carolina legalized shale gas extraction. This October 2012 summit explored the most important issues related to the prevention of adverse public health effects through three work groups (exposure characterizations/social impacts on communities/health impact assessments) that each address an individual aspect of the larger situation.
Issues discussed included baseline data needs, surveillance of adverse effects on humans and potential occupational and environmental exposures (air, water, soil, etc.), communication strategies, and collaborations with local, state and federal agencies as well as with industry and public interest groups. Because fracking has yet to begin in North Carolina, experts in the state have an opportunity to provide a model of recommended practices that other states may adopt to help prevent potential environmental and public health disasters.
Environmental Protection Agency
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University
North Carolina State University
Kenan Institute for Engineering, Technology & Science
UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health
North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources
North Carolina Division of Public Health
Social & Scientific Systems, Inc.
Research Triangle Foundation of North Carolina
North Carolina Biotechnology Center
The Hamner Institutes for Health Sciences
Triangle Global Health Consortium
North Carolina State University Center for Human Health and Environment
Association of State and Territorial Health Officials
Fleishman Hillard International Communications