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The Health Impact of Shale Gas Development on Birthing People and Their Infants: A Critical Literature Synthesis

Wasilko, Rachel (2023) The Health Impact of Shale Gas Development on Birthing People and Their Infants: A Critical Literature Synthesis. Master Essay, University of Pittsburgh.

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Shale gas development (SGD) has boomed over the past few decades, often operating near residential communities. The process and emissions from SGD contain toxicants like volatile organic compounds and naturally occurring radioactive material. Some of these toxicants can cause adverse health effects if someone has been exposed to a significant dosage. The health effects of the emitted harmful compounds are known, but the evidence of their connections to SGD is still limited. Epidemiological studies have linked SGD to cancer, endocrine disruption, and respiratory symptoms. It is pertinent that the health impacts to birthing people and their infants be understood as they are particularly vulnerable to chemical toxicity. Fetal development is a sensitive period. Infants that were exposed to toxic chemicals in the womb can experience developmental abnormalities or poor birth outcomes, like premature birth. Poor birth outcomes can lead to other health problems in childhood. Understanding what health risks there are from SGD for birthing people and their infants is of public health importance. In this critical literature synthesis, 14 articles sourced from PubMed were reviewed to assess birth outcomes associated with SGD for birthing people and infants. The results suggest there could be some evidence, but there is not consensus of any health association. In articles that found positive associations of a health condition to SGD, the association was stronger the closer the residence was to SGD.


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Item Type: Other Thesis, Dissertation, or Long Paper (Master Essay)
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Wasilko, Rachelraw133@pitt.eduraw133
ContributionContributors NameEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairMair, Christinacmair@pitt.educmairUNSPECIFIED
Committee MemberBuchanich, Jeaninejeanine@pitt.edujeanineUNSPECIFIED
Date: 17 May 2023
Date Type: Completion
Submission Date: 24 April 2023
Access Restriction: 1 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 1 year.
Number of Pages: 61
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Public Health > Behavioral and Community Health Sciences
Degree: MPH - Master of Public Health
Thesis Type: Master Essay
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: shale gas development, fracking, hydraulic fracturing, birthing people, infants
Date Deposited: 17 May 2023 15:22
Last Modified: 17 May 2023 15:22


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