“Sustainable development must define the choices we make to provide our children with both a thriving and healthy world.
When it comes to exposure to hazardous chemicals, children are not just little adults. “Children are more vulnerable to environmental hazards,” states the Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit, a subcommittee of the American Pediatric Society. “They eat, drink and breathe more than adults on a pound for pound basis.” This means children are proportionally more exposed to toxins in air, water and food.
In areas of unconventional gas development, children are exposed to multiple industrial toxins, through air, and potentially through water and soil. Yet children’s health remains one of the many unexamined issues of this contentious industry.
Recent, independent studies have associated living near a shale gas well with low birth weight in infants, poor infant health, congenital heart defects and exposure to endocrine disruptors, substances that in the tiniest quantities can cause a host of developmental, reproductive and other diseases. During a 2017 BC study, pregnant women have been found to have 3.5 times more benzene byproducts in their urine than the average person in Canada. But in nearly half the participants, 14 of them Indigenous women, the levels were six times higher.
These substances, whose dangers have only recently been discovered, are regularly used in the shale gas industry.
- Benzene byproducts found in pregnant women living near frack sites. Nov 2017, Montreal Gazette.
- Fracking, Shale Gas and Children’s Health: Toxins and Vulnerable Populations, Cancer Now, Barb Harris
- Unconventional Natural Gas Development and Infant Health: Evidence from Pennsylvania (study by Cornell University, Elaine Hill)
- Toxic & Dirty Secrets: The Truth about Fracking – A white paper produced by the Centre for Environmental Health, which studies the effects of toxic chemicals that impact health.
- Fracking Tied to Birth Defects: Colorado Study – A new study, published February 2014 in the scientific journal Environmental Health Perspectives, draws a correlation between birth defects and maternal exposures to natural gas.