How Does Hydraulic Fracturing Impact on Infant Health?

While some local communities find hydraulic fracturing as benefiting the local economy, a new study shows the hidden health risks to infants born to mothers living within 2 miles of a hydraulic fracturing site.

There is no doubt that hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, has turned small towns into energy capitals. However, what is the true cost? What are the potential health and environmental consequences that come along with fracking?

A new study, which was published in Science Advances, has shown that there are increased health risks for infants born to mothers living within a 2 mile (3.2 kilometer) radius of a hydraulic fracturing site.

It was also found that infants born within 800 meters (half a mile) of a fracking site are 25 percent more likely to be born at low birth weights. This has led to a greater risk of infant mortality, ADHD, asthma, lower test scores, lower schooling attainment, and lower lifetime earnings.

Co-author Janet Currie, from the Henry Putnam Professor of Economics and Public Affairs at Princeton University, said in a statement:

Michael Greenstone, the Milton Friedman Professor in Economics and director of the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago and co-author of the study, added:

The researchers used records from more than 1.1 million births across Pennsylvania from 2004 to 2013. They then compared infants born to mothers living near a drilling site to those living farther away from a site, before and after fracking began at that site.

It was found that the most significant impact was among babies born within approximately 0.6 miles (1 kilometer) of a site, as those babies were 25 percent more likely to be of a low birth weight.

The risk of low birth weight of infants who were born to mothers living between 0.5 miles (800 meters) and 2 miles (1.6 kilometers) decreased by about a half to a third.

Infants born to mothers living beyond 2 miles (3 kilometers) had experienced little to no impact to their health, Currie explained:

Co-author Katherine Meckel, assistant professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, added:

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‘Smoke Rings’ Spotted Off the Australian Coast From Space

Two “smoke rings” have been discovered off the Australian coast, leaving researchers believing that they could “suck up” small marine creatures carrying them at high speed for long distances across the ocean.

Researchers from the University of Liverpool spotted the equivalent of smoke-rings in the Tasman Sea, off the southwest of Australia and in the South Atlantic, west of South Africa.

The “smoke rings” are a pair of linked eddies spinning in opposite directions that travel up to 10 times the speed of “normal” eddies. There are a lot of these eddies in the ocean; in fact, the ocean is full of these swirling motions, with some being hundreds of miles across.

In the research paper titled Rapid Water Transport by Long-Lasting Modon Eddy Pairs in the Southern Midlatitude Oceans, which was published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, the authors explained:

The two rings are cut in half by the sea surface, so only the two ends of the ring are visible at the surface. The lead author of the study, Professor Chris Hughes, said in a statement:

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