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Facilities Accepting Oil and Gas Waste and Birthweight: An Exploratory Bayesian Analysis

Tedesco, Nicholas (2023) Facilities Accepting Oil and Gas Waste and Birthweight: An Exploratory Bayesian Analysis. Master's Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Background: Previous studies have identified links between fracking and adverse health outcomes such as reduced birthweight. However, none have examined the potential health effects of exposure to facilities accepting oil and gas waste. The purpose of this work was to investigate the relationship between residential proximity to facilities accepting oil and gas waste, as defined via a binary exposure variable, and birthweight.
Methods: The relationship between exposure to facilities accepting oil and gas waste within two kilometers of the mother’s residence and birthweight was examined via both linear ordinary least squares and Bayesian regression. Various Bayesian priors were specified on the exposure coefficient to understand the effects of different distributions and parameters. Models were compared by looking at differences in the exposure coefficient, its 95% confidence/credible interval, and test set root mean squared error (RMSE).
Results: Both the unadjusted and adjusted linear models found a negative relationship between proximity (exposure) and birthweight in grams (unadjusted model β = -56.87 g, 95% CI [-71.82 g, -41.93 g]; adjusted model β = -13.34 g, 95% CI [-25.02 g, -1.65 g], respectively). As we might expect, the Bayesian exposure coefficient was increasingly pulled towards its respective prior mean as the prior standard deviation decreased. In terms of test set RMSE, none of the univariate Bayesian models outperformed their corresponding linear model, but many of the adjusted Bayesian models outperformed their linear model counterpart.
Conclusion: This thesis found an association between proximity to facilities accepting oil and gas waste and lower average birthweight (grams). However, this association was relatively small and requires further support.
Public Health Significance: This work may serve to better inform our collective understanding of the impacts of fracking on birth outcomes. Furthermore, no previous study has investigated the effects of facilities accepting oil and gas waste on birthweight.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Tedesco, Nicholasnrt21@pitt.edunrt21
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Thesis AdvisorBuchanich, Jeaninejeanine@pitt.edujeanine
Committee MemberYouk, Adaayouk@pitt.eduayouk
Committee MemberCarlson, Jennajnc35@pitt.edujnc35
Committee MemberFabisiak, Jamesfabs@pitt.edufabs
Date: 3 January 2023
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 11 December 2022
Approval Date: 3 January 2023
Submission Date: 15 December 2022
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 95
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Public Health > Biostatistics
Degree: MS - Master of Science
Thesis Type: Master's Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: fracking waste, birthweight
Date Deposited: 03 Jan 2023 14:14
Last Modified: 03 Jan 2023 14:14


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