Health professionals are increasingly calling for bans or moratoria on fracking, based on a range of potential health hazards and as reviews of the data confirm evidence for harm.
In May 2015, the Medical Society of the State of New York passed a resolution recognizing the potential health impacts of natural gas infrastructure and pledging support for a governmental assessment of the health and environmental risks associated with natural gas pipelines. The American Medical Association (AMA) adopted a similar resolution that supports legislation requiring all levels of government to seek a comprehensive Health Impact Assessment regarding the health and environmental risks associated with natural gas pipelines.
In May 2016, Physicians for Social Responsibility called for a ban on fracking. In July 2016, the UK health professional organization Medact released an updated assessment of the potential health impacts of shale fracking in England, concluding that the United Kingdom should abandon its policy to encourage shale gas extraction, and urged an “indefinite moratorium” on fracking. In October 2016, a group of health care professionals in Massachusetts called for an immediate moratorium on major new natural gas infrastructure until the impact of these projects on the health of the communities affected can be adequately determined through a comprehensive Health Impact Assessment. The group noted that the operation of natural gas facilities risks human exposures to toxic, cancer-causing, and radioactive pollution due to the presence of naturally co-occurring contaminants, toxic additives to the hydraulic fracturing process used to produce much of the country’s natural gas supply, and through the operation of transmission pipelines.
Also in 2016, in a unanimous vote of the society’s 300-member House of Delegates, the Pennsylvania Medical Society called for a moratorium on new shale gas drilling and fracking in Pennsylvania and an initiation of a health registry in communities with pre-existing operations.