Among the known health risks caused by living near fracking wells, scientists are adding heart attacks to the list. A new study published in the Journal of Environmental Research, finds middle-aged men living near fracking operations in Pennsylvania were more than 5% more likely to die of a heart attack than their counterparts where fracking is banned. Researchers looked at Pennsylvania fracking counties and compared them to demographically similar counties in New York, which has banned fracking. They also found heart attack hospitalization rates were higher in Pennsylvania compared to New York. The study controlled for counties’ coal production — which also increases heart attack risk — and for health insurance access, which is often poor in rural communities where fracking is concentrated.

“There’s a large body of literature linking air pollution with poor cardiovascular health and heart attacks, but this is really the first study to look at this from a population level related to fracking,” Elaine Hill, a researcher at the University of Rochester Medical Center and one of the study’s co-authors, told EHN. The study is consistent with 2019 research that found elevated physical markers associated with heart attack risk in people who live near fracking as well as a 2020 study that found horses raised in Pennsylvania fracking counties had higher rates of a rare birth defect than horses raised by the same farmer in New York. (Environmental Health News)