Canadian medical professionals yesterday called for a fracking moratorium based on health and climate grounds. The released paper – Fractures in the Bridge – is a review of fracking evidence, written by doctors from the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE).
Canada is the fourth-largest global producer of gas and oil, accounting for five per cent of production worldwide, for each.
Within the report, concerns focus on negative health outcomes from environmental toxins such as naturally occurring radioactive materials (NORMs); the complex level of chemicals used in the fracking process, and the varying degree of toxicity these carry to impact to human health; water contamination through poor regulatory monitoring; psychological and mental impacts from living close to unconventional gas developments; and the environmental damage such as the harmful emissions that are exacerbating the climate crisis.
Dangerous Health Outcomes
“The strongest evidence is for adverse impacts on pregnancy, birth outcomes and asthma exacerbations. There is also evidence that [fracking] may be associated with increases in birth defects, such as heart defects and neural tube defects, and ALL among children whose mothers live in close proximity to oil and gas wells during pregnancy. Effects related to stress and psychological distress have also been documented.”
“…there is evidence which suggests that fracking may increase the risk of acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) among children whose mothers live in close proximity to oil and gas wells during pregnancy. One case-control study found that children diagnosed with ALL were 3 to 4 times more likely to live in areas with active oil and gas wells than children with non-hematologic cancers. It also found that the association increased as the density of oil and gas wells increased.”
“Natural Gas Is A Fossil Fuel That Contributes To Climate Change”
The climate crisis requires urgent action from all areas of society, on a global scale, to decarbonise our energy infrastructure, in line with the Paris Agreement. Fracking gas leaks are under-reported, with one study in British Columbia estimating that the toxic release of methane over gas fields in the Montney area was 111,800 tonnes per year. This differs vastly from the official government figures for all of British Columbia at 78,000 tonnes.
The report recommends a “…rapid and just transition away from natural gas and oil extracted with fracking to clean and equitable renewable energy sources.”
You can download the report here.
Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE). 2020. Fractures in the Bridge: Unconventional (Fracked) Natural Gas, Climate Change and Human Health. Prepared by Ronald Macfarlane, MSc with Kim Perrotta, MHSc. January 2020.