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The Effects of Hydraulic Fracturing on Childhood Cancer

Bayer, Samantha L. (2022) The Effects of Hydraulic Fracturing on Childhood Cancer. Master Essay, University of Pittsburgh.

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Background/Objective: Cancer is the leading cause of death by disease among children, yet little is known about its risk factors. Exposure to hydraulic fracturing has been implicated in many health conditions, including childhood cancer. However, little is known about the relationship between hydraulic fracturing and childhood cancer in states with significant hydraulic fracturing activity. The objective of this study is to determine whether rates of childhood cancer are elevated in counties with hydraulic fracturing activity in Texas.

Methods: Childhood cancer case data for individuals ages 0-19 diagnosed with CNS tumors, acute myeloid leukemia, acute lymphocytic leukemia, Ewing’s tumors, Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, or non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma between 2010-2018 were obtained from the Texas Cancer Registry. County-level hydraulic fracturing data for 2010 were obtained from the Texas Railroad Commission. Average age-specific cancer rates were calculated for each of the cancer types of interest by five-year age group for 2010-2018. Standardized Incidence Ratios and 95% confidence intervals were calculated for each of these cancer types from 2014 to 2018 in relation to 2010 hydraulic fracturing activity.

Results: Average age-specific cancer rates according to hydraulic fracturing exposure varied by cancer type. Cases of CNS tumors, Ewing’s tumors, leukemias, and lymphomas were higher than expected in counties without drilling activity (SIR=1.12, 95% CI: 0.99-1.26; SIR=1.31, 95% CI: 0.77-2.11; SIR=1.14, 95% CI: 1.00-1.30; SIR=1.07, 95% CI: 0.90-1.27; respectively). Cases of CNS tumors were higher than expected in counties with horizontal drilling activity (SIR=1.02, 95% CI: 0.95-1.09). In counties with other drilling activity, cases of leukemias and lymphomas were slightly but not statistically significantly elevated (SIR=1.01, 95% CI: 0.96-1.06; SIR=1.00, 95% CI: 0.94-1.07; respectively).

Conclusion: This study did not find evidence of a relationship between elevated childhood cancer rates and hydraulic fracturing activity. Future research using individual-level data is needed to evaluate risk factors for childhood cancer. By gaining an understanding of the role that hydraulic fracturing exposure plays in childhood cancer development, evidence will be gathered that can inform future evaluations about the risks of childhood cancer, the leading cause of death by disease in children.


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Item Type: Other Thesis, Dissertation, or Long Paper (Master Essay)
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Bayer, Samantha L.SLB170@pitt.eduSLB170
ContributionContributors NameEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairTalbott, Evelyn O.eot1@pitt.edueot1UNSPECIFIED
Committee MemberBuchanich, Jeanine M.jeanine@pitt.edujeanineUNSPECIFIED
Committee MemberYuan, Jian-Minyuanj@upmc.eduUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
Date: 16 May 2022
Date Type: Completion
Submission Date: 26 April 2022
Access Restriction: 2 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 2 years.
Number of Pages: 35
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Public Health > Epidemiology
Degree: MPH - Master of Public Health
Thesis Type: Master Essay
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: childhood cancer, hydraulic fracturing, CNS Tumors, Ewing's Tumors, leukemia, lymphoma
Date Deposited: 16 May 2022 19:20
Last Modified: 16 May 2024 05:15


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