A new University of Chicago study examining Medicare claims found older adults living near fracking sites in Pennsylvania were more likely to be hospitalized for cardiovascular diseases than those who lived in nearby New York state, where fracking is banned. The research was published in The Lancet Planetary Health.
Prachi Sanghavi, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Public Health Sciences at UChicago and senior author on the paper, said she first became interested in studying the potential health impacts of fracking in the early 2010s. This was during the peak of the unconventional natural gas development (UNGD) boom, colloquially known as “fracking.”
“There was a lot of buzz about the environmental effects of UNGD, and several documentaries were produced on the subject,” she said. “I do a lot of work with Medicare claims data, and I realized that we could use that approach to determine if there was a measurable effect on population health based on what the stories were suggesting.”
Her team collected Medicare claims data for tens of thousands of patients generated between 2002 and 2015 in both northern Pennsylvania, which experienced a fracking boom, and next-door New York state, where UNGD was banned. They found an association between the development of new fracking sites and increased rates of hospitalization for health conditions such as acute myocardial infarction, heart failure and ischemic heart disease….