The rush to drill for natural gas: A public health cautionary tale Academic Article uri icon


MeSH Major

  • Fossil Fuels
  • Mining
  • Public Health


  • Efforts to identify alternative sources of energy have focused on extracting natural gas from vast shale deposits. The Marcellus Shale, located in western New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, is estimated to contain enough natural gas to supply the United States for the next 45 years. New drilling technology-horizontal drilling and high-volume hydraulic fracturing of shale (fracking)-has made gas extraction much more economically feasible. However, this technique poses a threat to the environment and to the public's health. There is evidence that many of the chemicals used in fracking can damage the lungs, liver, kidneys, blood, and brain. We discuss the controversial technique of fracking and raise the issue of how to balance the need for energy with the protection of the public's health.

publication date

  • May 2011



  • Academic Article



  • eng

PubMed Central ID

  • PMC3076392

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.2105/AJPH.2010.300089

PubMed ID

  • 21421959

Additional Document Info

start page

  • 784

end page

  • 5


  • 101


  • 5