Health professionals have called for an immediate moratorium on fracking to allow time for a full and comprehensive health and environmental impact assessment to be completed, arguing that there are several potential health risks.
In a report, which has been supported by a letter calling for shale gas development to be put on hold, health charity Medact argues the level of human risk cannot be precisely calculated. As a result, the organisation states that intensive levels of fracking activity could pose additional risks to the UK and communities.
Fracking has proved a controversial subject in the UK, with supporters arguing it could reduce dependency on fossil fuels and aid in climate change goals. However, the practice has been linked to water contamination, methane leaks, environmental degradation and earthquakes, as well as health risks.
Dr David McCoy, director of Medact, said, “Medact, alongside a wider group of health professional, has called for a moratorium on fracking because of the serious risks it poses to public health. Fracking has already been suspended in Wales and Scotland because of health and climate risks and New York State has banned fracking because of the ‘significant health risks’.”
The Medact report concludes that “fracking generates numerous public health risks” that are both direct and indirect. For example, its highlights potential health hazards associated with air pollution and water contamination, with toxins being linked to increased risks of cancers, birth defects and lung disease. Furthermore it notes that associated noise, social disruption and environmental degradation could have negative health impact.
While fracking is cleaner than fossil fuels in term of greenhouse gas emissions it still contributes to climate change, and the report argues that these indirect effects also pose a human health risk.
Co-author of the report, Dr Patrick Saunders added, “Climate change is the biggest long-term threat to global public health. Suspending fracking now will also allow time for the independent UK Committee on Climate Change to complete its next assessment of the climate change risks.”
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