Natural gas extraction from shale formations, which includes hydraulic fracturing, is increasingly in the news as the use of extraction technologies has expanded, rural communities have been transformed seemingly overnight, public awareness has increased, and regulations have been developed. The governmental public health system, which retains primary responsibility for health, was not an early participant in discussions about shale gas extraction; thus public health is lacking critical information about environmental health impacts of these technologies and is limited in its ability to address concerns raised by regulators at the federal and state levels, communities, and workers employed in the shale gas extraction industry.
Health Impact Assessment of Shale Gas Extraction is the summary of a workshop convened in 2012 by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) Roundtable on Environmental Health Sciences, Research, and Medicine to discuss the human health impact of shale gas extraction through the lens of a health impact assessment. Eminent scientists, physicians, public health experts, and representatives from government agencies at federal and state levels, from nongovernment organizations, from the business sector, and from interest groups representing the interests of the citizens met to exchange ideas and to inform on hydraulic fracturing as a means of extraction of natural gas. This report examines the state of the science regarding shale gas extraction, the direct and indirect environmental health impacts of shale gas extraction, and the use of health impact assessment as a tool that can help decision makers identify the public health consequences of shale gas extraction.
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