Ohio: New study connects proximity of frac’ing to radon gas in homes. “The shorter the distance a home is from a fracking well, the higher the radon concentration.”

Fracking linked to higher radon levels in Ohio homes by Science Daily, June 18, 2019

A new study at The University of Toledo connects the proximity of fracking to higher household concentrations of radon gas, the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S.

Measuring and geocoding data from 118,421 homes across all 88 counties in Ohio between 2007 and 2014, scientists found that closer distance to the 1,162 fracking wells is linked to higher indoor radon concentrations.

“The shorter the distance a home is from a fracking well, the higher the radon concentration. The larger the distance, the lower the radon concentration,” Dr. Ashok Kumar, Distinguished University Professor and chair of the UToledo Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, said.

The study also found the average radon concentrations among all tested homes across the state are higher than safe levels outlined by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and World Health Organization standards. The average is 5.76 pCi/l, while the EPA threshold is 4.0 pCi/l. The postal code 43557 in the city of Stryker has the highest radon concentration at 141.85 pCi/l for this data set.

“We care about air quality,” Dr. Yanqing Xu, assistant professor in the UToledo Department of Geography and Planning, said. “Our motivation is to save the lives of Ohioans. I hope this eye-opening research inspires families across the state to take action and have their homes tested for radon and, if needed, install mitigation systems to protect their loved ones.” How the hell do homeowners stop frac’ers?

The results of the study were recently published in the journal Frontiers in Public Health. The research is a collaboration between UToledo’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Department of Geography and Planning. The radon data collection was supported by grants from the Ohio Department of Health and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Radon, which cannot be smelled or seen As deadly as methane, ethane, etc, which also cannot be smelled or seen, begins as uranium found naturally in soil, water and rocks, but transforms into gas as it decays. …

Impact of the Hydraulic Fracturing on Indoor Radon Concentrations in Ohio: A Multilevel Modeling Approach by Yanqing Xu, Mounika Sajja and Ashok Kumar, April 10, 2019, Public Health https://doi.org/10.3389/fpubh.2019.00076

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA), exposure to radon gas is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking. Extant research that has reported that fracking activity increases the radon levels. “Fracking” also known as hydraulic fracturing, which is a technology that is used to extract naturally occurring shale gas from the Marcellus and the Utica shales. Based on the data from the Ohio Radon Information System (ORIS) from 2007 to 2014 in Ohio, this research uses multilevel modeling (MLM) to examine the association between the incidences of hydraulic fracturing and elevated airborne radon levels. The ORIS data include information on 118,421 individual records of households geocoded to zip code areas. Individual records include radon concentrations, device types of the test, and seasons. Euclidean distances between zip code centroid to the 1,162 fracking wells are measured at the zip code level. Two additional zip code variables, namely the population density and urbanicity, are also included as control variables. Multilevel modeling results show that at the zip code level, distance to fracking wells and population density are significant and negative covariate of the radon concentration. By comparing with urban areas, urban clusters, and rural areas are significant which linked to higher radon concentrations. These findings lend support to the effect of hydraulic fracturing in influencing radon concentrations, and promote public policies that need to be geographically adaptable.

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