Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Gas Drilling Affects Animal Health


US scientists have documented cases of animal health problems they believe have possible links to gas drilling.

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“This work is based on interviews and thus provides anecdotal evidence rather than a direct cause-and-effect relationship for adverse health impacts from gas drilling. It is an interesting study and highlights some of the knowledge that is required. However, there are some important differences between gas drilling in the US and here which need to be taken into consideration when extrapolating from this research.

“Firstly, the type of gas drilling (shale gas) that is reported in this paper is horizontal and therefore could be closer to surface waters, and potentially increasing the exposure to humans and livestock. Coal seam gas drilling that takes place in Australia tends to be much deeper.

“Secondly, the authors point to the reported confidentiality surrounding the chemicals used in fracking in the US. In Australia there is, on the whole, full disclosure about the chemicals used in the fracking process.

“Lastly, the paper by Bamberger and Oswald reports a lack of pre-drilling data in the US study – i.e. information about the quality of the water before drilling began. My understanding is that such baseline data is being collected here.”

Dr Heather Chapman is an environmental toxicologist and Associate Professor at the Smart Water Research Centre, Griffith University. Her expertise is in the area of toxicology and water quality and she...

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Source: AusSMC
*Original study: Bamberger, M. & Oswald, R.E. (2012), Impacts of Gas Drilling on Human and Animal Health. New Solutions 22(1), 51–77.