Since the release of the original MEDACT report in 2015, over 350 academic papers of various sorts have been published, examining the impacts of high volume hydraulic fracturing (HVHF) for shale gas on air and water quality, health, climate change, social wellbeing, economics, noise and light pollution, and seismic events. This new report updates the findings of a review of the more recent evidence.
David McCoy, the report’s lead author states that ‘the biggest threat posed by shale gas is via global warming, but there are also direct risks to the health and wellbeing of local populations. What is striking is the lack of an integrated social, economic, environmental and health impact assessment of fracking”.
Medact’s view that the UK should abandon its policy to encourage shale gas production remains unchanged.
In arriving at this view, Medact carefully considered the arguments put forward by the industry-funded Task Force on Shale Gas, which concluded that shale gas production in the UK would be safe, economically beneficial and important for the UK’s energy security. Medact’s latest report disagrees with their conclusions and explains why:
Hazardous pollutants are produced at all stages of the shale gas production process. The range of pollutants are outlined in the report. Based on current evidence it is not possible to conclude that there is a strong association between shale gas related pollution and negative local health effects. However, there is clearly potential for negative health impacts. In particular, there are risks of:
(i) adverse reproductive outcomes due to exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals,
(ii) risk of respiratory effects resulting from ozone and smog formation,
(iii) stress, anxiety and other psycho-social effects arising from actual and perceived social and economic disruption.
Further information can be found here.