The shale gas boom and the need for rational policy
Extraction and Processing Industry
Health Impact Assessment
High-volume, slick water hydraulic fracturing of shale relies on pumping millions of gallons of surface water laced with toxic chemicals and sand under high pressure to create fractures to release the flow of gas. The process, however, has the potential to cause serious and irreparable damage to the environment and the potential for harm to human and animal health. At issue is how society should form appropriate policy in the absence of well-designed epidemiological studies and health impact assessments. The issue is fraught with environmental, economic, and health implications, and federal and state governments must establish detailed safeguards and ensure regulatory oversight, both of which are presently lacking in states where hydraulic fracturing is allowed.