According to Colorado School of Public Health, USA, living near oil and gas wells indicates an increase in the occurrence of cardiovascular disease risk factors.
Researchers at the Colorado School of Public Health have potentially found a connection between the intensity of oil and gas exploration in an area and early indicators of chronic diseases among nearby residents, therefore suggesting such areas could contribute to cardiovascular disease risk factors.
Cardiovascular disease risk factors
“We are not sure whether the responsible factor is noise or emissions from the well pads or something else, but we did observe that with more intense oil and gas activity around a person’s home, cardiovascular disease indicator levels increased,” said the study’s lead author Lisa McKenzie, PhD, MPH, of the Colorado School of Public Health at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.
The scientists found that those who lived in areas of more intense oil and gas development showed early signs of cardiovascular disease (CVD), including higher blood pressure, changes in the stiffness of blood vessels, and markers of inflammation.
According to the authors, behavioural and genetic factors contribute to the burden of cardiovascular disease as well, moreover, exposure to environmental stressors, such as air pollution, noise and psychosocial stress also contribute to cardiovascular disease risk factors, morbidity and mortality.
One increasingly common source of these risk factors is the extraction of oil and gas in residential areas. Advances in fracking, horizontal drilling, and micro-seismic imaging have opened up many previously inaccessible areas for exploration.
The dangers of oil and gas wells
“More than 17.4 million people in the U.S. now live within one mile of an active oil and gas well.” explains McKenzie.
Previous studies have shown that short and long-term exposure to the kind of particulate matter emitted from oil and gas operations could potentially be associated with increases in cardiovascular disease and death.
Moreover, at the same time, noise levels measured in communities near these facilities have exceeded levels associated with increased risk of CVD and hypertension.
This study is the first to investigate the relationship between oil and gas development and cardiovascular disease risk factors. But the results are consistent with an increase in the frequency of cardiology inpatient hospital admissions in areas of oil and gas activity in Pennsylvania, USA.
McKenzie concludes: “Our study findings support the use of these indicators of cardiovascular disease in future studies on oil and gas development in residential areas”.
Those indicators included blood pressure, arterial stiffening and early markers of inflammation.