Noise pollution from oil, gas development may harm human health

Researcher: Michael McCawley, PhD

Modern oil and gas development techniques such as directional drilling and hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," produce noise at levels that may increase the risk of adverse effects on human health, including sleep disturbance, cardiovascular disease and other conditions that are negatively impacted by stress, according to a study by authors at the nonprofit science and policy research institute PSE Healthy Energy and West Virginia University. It is the first peer-reviewed study to analyze the potential public health impacts of ambient noise related to fracking operations.

"People living near oil and gas development may bring up concerns like air pollution, traffic and groundwater safety, but many also complain about noise," said Jake Hays, director of the Environmental Health Program at PSE Healthy Energy, and lead author of the paper, which was published Dec. 9 in Science of the Total Environment. "But until now, most of the research relevant to public health has focused on the impacts of air and water pollution."

Michael McCawley McCawley WVU, the interim chair of the Occupational and Environmental Health Department at WVU, was also a coauthor on the study, titled "Public health implications of environmental noise associated with unconventional oil and gas development."